March 29, 2013

Great Moments In Hockey History: Pat Lafontaine's Easter Epic

It is known as the Easter Epic. Easter weekend, 1987, the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals engage in a classic game 7 playoff showdown that was spectacularly extended through 4 overtime periods.

Kelly Hrudey of the Islanders and Bob Mason of the Capitals were both spectacular in net, extending the game well into the wee hours of the next day. That's when Pat Lafontaine mercifully scores the series winning goal, 6 hours and 18 minutes after the game started

It ranks high among the all time great moments in New York Islanders history. For Lafontaine it is the defining moment of his Hall of Fame career. He recalled the play for Adam Proteau of The Hockey News with amazing detail:

"The game was surreal by that stage of the night. I’ll never forget one moment I think of the most: Our equipment guy Jim Pickard told me, ‘You’re going to get the goal, you’re going to pop one in.’ And then he squeezed the water bottle so that the water went down my neck.

"At that exact moment, the arena P.A. system played the theme music from The Twilight Zone. Literally, everything stopped and I looked up into the stands, and people were sleeping. It was almost two in the morning and I looked up and it was seven periods, 75 shots to 56 at that moment and I said is this really happening? It was surreal. And 30 seconds later, I jumped over the boards and saw Gord Dineen fly by me.

"I don’t think I’ve ever shot a puck the same way since. I just spun around because the puck came to me at an interesting angle and I just wanted to shoot it and hope for the best, because everything Kelly Hrudey and Bob Mason saw, they stopped. I remember the puck being off on its side, so I didn’t catch it flat and it kind of knuckled. I heard the post and thought “oh” as if it didn’t go in, but then I saw Mason drop to his knees and I saw our guys start to drop and then it was just unbelievable emotion for about a minute. Then we just all collapsed."

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