Memorable Red Wings moments online: 1950, 2008 Stanley Cup clinchers among 10 extraordinary games

John Niyo
The Detroit News

In the absence of live sports, TV networks are filling airtime by replaying classic games from the past, some involving our local teams. But if you need a stronger dose of Detroit-area sports to tide you over until the games begin again, we’ve come up with a list you can find online.

Henrik Zetterberg lifts the Stanley Cup after the Red Wings defeated the Penguins in 2008.

The NFL just made things easier for fans by making a decade’s worth of games available for free on Gamepass via Recent Major League Baseball games are relatively easy to find on YouTube. The same goes for other sports, and we’ve compiled a list of 10 memorable games from each of our four major pro franchise, as well as Michigan and Michigan State football and basketball.

First up, the Red Wings, whose dismal 2019-20 regular season was scheduled to end this past weekend. That’s reason enough to hit the rewind button and remember better days when the Wings were kings and the fights meant a little more:

►April 23, 1950 – Red Wings 4, Rangers 3 (2OT): The first of four Stanley Cup titles for Gordie Howe and the Production Line wasn’t clinched until Pete Babando scored his second goal of the game – and the first Game 7 overtime winner in Cup history.

►April 16, 1954 – Red Wings 2, Canadiens 1 (OT): Tony Leswick joined Pete Babando in the history books, netting the overtime winner in Game 7 – off the glove of Montreal’s Doug Harvey – to give the Red Wings their fourth Stanley Cup title in six years. To date, those are the only two overtime Game 7s in Cup history.

Gordie Howe is introduced during the 1980 NHL All-Star Game at Joe Louis Arena.

►Feb. 5, 1980 – NHL All-Star Game: Mr. Hockey and the Great One were on the ice together for one All-Star contest, as Wayne Gretzky made his rookie debut in this game at Joe Louis Arena and Gordie Howe – at age 51 – made his 23rd and final appearance.

►May 16, 1996 – Red Wings 1, Blues 0 (2OT): As celebrations go, they don’t get more genuine – or jubilant – than this. Steve Yzerman ended a scoreless Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals with a bullet of a slapshot to beat Jon Casey and send Wayne Gretzky and the Blues home.

►Dec. 26, 1996 – Red Wings 5, Capitals 4 (OT): Along the way to ending their Stanley Cup drought, the Red Wings played some memorable regular-season games, too. Few better than this one, where Sergei Fedorov all five goals to beat the Washington Capitals, the last in overtime on an assist from Russian Five teammate Vladimir Konstantinov.

►March 26, 1997 – Red Wings 6, Avalanche 5: The full game may not be readily available online, but the highlights are everywhere from the “Brawl in Hockeytown.” And this 15-minute recap captures all of them from one of the wildest – and most important – nights in Red Wings history, from the epic fights to Darren McCarty’s karmic overtime winner. 

►June 7, 1997 – Red Wings 2, Flyers 1: The brooms were out, and the drought would soon be over. But before the Red Wings could hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time in 42 years, they still had to finish off the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena.

►May 31, 2002 – Red Wings 7, Avalanche 0: The Red Wings won this one in a rout. Only 48 hours after forcing a deciding Game 7 with Dominik Hasek’s shutout win in Denver, Detroit turned this one into a laugher, scoring on its first two shots on goal and eventually chasing Patrick Roy from the net after allowing six goals on 16 shots.

►June 8, 2002 – Red Wings 3, Hurricanes 2: It took the oldest player to end the longest night for the Red Wings, as 41-year-old Igor Larionov patience paid off with a triple-OT winner in Carolina. That goal proved pivotal in the series for Detroit’s Hall of Fame crew, and made Larionov the oldest player in NHL history to score a playoff game-winner at the time.

►June 4, 2008 – Red Wings 3, Penguins 2: The Red Wings never fell behind in any playoff series on their way to the 2018 Stanley Cup, and they never trailed in the clinching Game 6 at Pittsburgh, either. But it took Conn Smythe winner Henrik Zetterberg’s third-period goal and a late save by Chris Osgood in the final seconds to finish off this Cup run.