Through the mid-1980s, there was no NHL team more feared than the Edmonton Oilers. Led by future Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, the Oilers had won two of the previous three Stanley Cups heading into the 1986-1987 season. Ron Hextall, much like several other goalies on this list, was finishing up his rookie season, but unlike the others, Hextall took home the Vezina Trophy for being the league’s top goaltender that season. He led the league in total saves and save percentage, but Edmonton was his biggest test yet.
With his Flyers down 3-2 in the series, this was a must-win for Hextall and company in front of their home crowd. With the game on the line, the Oilers had a 2-on-0 and were closing in on Hextall. The puck ended up on the tape of Dave Lumley’s stick and with a wide-open net, somehow, someway, Hextall still managed to get his arm in the way, stopping the breakaway.
This save was so incredible that after the game, Gretzky referred to Hextall as “probably the best goalie I’ve ever seen in the National Hockey League.” When you earn that kind of praise from someone nicknamed “The Great One,” you know you did something right. That save left Flyers fans erupting in the Spectrum. It left Oilers’ fans’ mouths agape, and it earned his team the victory in Game 6. The Flyers would lose Game 7, but because of his incredible performance throughout the series, Hextall would take home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the postseason. Hextall became the fourth player ever to win the award despite playing for the losing team. Only one other player (Jean-Sebastien Giguere in 2003) has earned the award under the same circumstances since. To this day, Hexy is still beloved in Philadelphia, and I’m sure this save has a lot to do with it. After all, it’s the greatest postseason save in NHL History.