The most memorable Game 7s of the Stanley Cup playoffs

— -- From postgame riots that stopped them in their tracks to thrilling plays that brought them out of their seats,'s hockey experts expound on the best Game 7s they've covered.

Penguins clip Wings in 2009

It has to be Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals in Detroit. It was the second straight Cup finals between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins. Detroit had won in 2008, another thrilling finals that was fun to cover and watch.

One thing that stood out about Game 7 in 2009 was how solid Marc-Andre Fleury was in net for the Penguins, even when the Red Wings outshot the Penguins 8-1 in the third period. Detroit was simply unable to beat the Penguins goalie for the equalizer. Also memorable was that the Penguins won the game 2-1 despite losing Sidney Crosby to a knee injury during the game. Max Talbot -- who had been so clutch during that playoff run -- scored both goals for Pittsburgh in Game 7.

I also remember talking to Marian Hossa of the Wings after Game 7 ended. The veteran winger was so dejected. He had lost the Cup finals as a member of the Penguins the year before and famously jumped ship and signed a one-year deal with Detroit after the season. Turns out he picked wrong. I was happy to see him go on to win three Cups with the  Chicago Blackhawks so he didn't have to look back on 2008 and '09 and wonder.

But what I remember most about Game 7 that June night in Detroit, as the Penguins celebrated their first Cup in the Crosby era, was doing a video hit with Scott Burnside. Both of us wondered if we were witnessing the start of a string of championships for the Penguins. It was on the minds of so many people that night: Were we seeing the start of something special? It really is surprising that the Penguins haven't been back to the Stanley Cup finals since. The salary cap has certainly had something to do with it, as it wreaked havoc on the Penguins' plans to keep a great team together. Perhaps this is the year the Penguins finally return. -- Pierre LeBrun

Vancouver riots -- then rebuilds -- in 2011

I don't know if this qualifies as the  best Game 7, but it was certainly the most memorable. The Boston Bruins had just won the 2011 Stanley Cup in Vancouver in what still goes down as one of the best series I've ever covered, simply because there was a new, crazy story to write about it nearly every day.

I was wrapping up a feature on Boston goaltender  Tim Thomas, who had been absolutely incredible in that series and throughout the Bruins' playoff run, when word started to circulate about what was happening outside. Fans were rioting. Sometimes we'd walk back to the media hotel from the arena, but we were told to take the bus that night. It was a scene unlike anything I'd seen -- at least not since my days witnessing couches burning in East Lansing after Michigan State NCAA tournament losses. As the bus slowly navigated its way through the streets of Vancouver, we passed burning cars and broken store windows and saw people yelling and shouting.

It was certainly one of the most unique scenes I'd encountered while covering hockey. But perhaps the most impressive part of the experience was the response from the people of Vancouver in the ensuing days. Thousands of volunteers showed up to clean the mess starting the next morning. Those were the people of Vancouver I chose to remember most fondly. -- Craig Custance

Kings conquer Blackhawks in 2014

The greatest Game 7 I've been associated with is an easy choice: the 2014 Western Conference finals. Maybe one of the most dynamic playoff series of all time ended in a fitting fashion, with the Los Angeles Kings coming from behind on the road not once but three times to defeat the defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center in overtime.

Most people believed that the winner of this game would have an easy time of it in the Stanley Cup finals, and that was borne out by the fact the Kings rolled over the New York Rangers in five games to win their second Cup in three years. But the Kings almost didn't get there. The Blackhawks, who had trailed 3-1 in the series and mounted their own dramatic comeback to force a deciding game, got to Jonathan Quick early and led 2-0 in the first period of Game 7. At various points the Blackhawks led 2-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3, but the Kings fought back time and again, answering with  Marian Gaborik's tying goal just past the midpoint of the third period. In overtime, L.A.'s  Alec Martinez -- who would go on to score the Cup-clinching goal in Game 5 of the finals against the Rangers -- found the back of the net courtesy of a setup from Mr. Game 7,  Justin Williams, who had also scored earlier in the game. It was the third consecutive Game 7 victory, all on the road, for a Cup-bound Kings team. Afterward, Kings captain Dustin Brown sat slumped in his dressing room stall, describing it as the most emotional series in which he'd ever played. A fair assessment. It was indeed one for the ages. -- Scott Burnside

When the Bruins brought me out of my seat

Two Game 7s stand out for me:

1. The 2011 Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

2. The last game of the 2013 quarterfinals between the Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The game in 2011 was the cleanest and most exciting 1-0 victory I have witnessed in my career. Nathan Horton's late goal in the third period sent the Bruins to the finals, which ended with Boston hoisting the Cup. Even if the Lightning had won Game 7, it would still rank as one of the best I have seen.

If I had to pick only one game, however, it would be the comeback victory by the Bruins against the Maple Leafs in 2013. I have come out of my chair twice in my career, and this was the second time it happened. (The other was Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS that ended with Manny Ramirez hitting a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning against Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez.)

In 2013, the Bruins had a 3-1 series lead, but the Maple Leafs won Games 5 and 6 to force Game 7. Toronto had a 4-1 lead in the third period before the Bruins mounted one of the greatest comebacks in Stanley Cup playoff history. Horton scored at 9:18. Milan Lucic scored at 18:38. Then, with goalie Tuukka Rask out of the net for the extra attacker, Patrice Bergeron scored at 19:09 to tie it at 4-4 -- that's when I came out of my seat. It could have been any team that mounted that kind of comeback and I would've reacted the same way. Bergeron scored at 6:05 of overtime for the series win. If the Bruins had lost that series, it's possible that coach Claude Julien would have been fired and more changes would have ensued in Boston, but the Bruins reached the Cup finals again and this time lost to the Blackhawks. -- Joe McDonald