Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time

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The NHL playoffs are a showcase of grit, determination, and the unexpected. Each year, the quest for the Stanley Cup brings forth intense battles on the ice. Throughout its storied history, the NHL has witnessed numerous upsets that have left fans and experts alike in awe. From underdog stories to dramatic turnarounds, the NHL playoffs have seen it all. In this article, we will delve into the top 10 NHL playoff upsets of all time, celebrating the moments that have defined the unpredictability of hockey’s postseason.

10. San Jose Sharks Stun Detroit Red Wings (1994)

The 1994 NHL playoffs provided one of the most memorable upsets in the league’s history when the San Jose Sharks faced off against the Detroit Red Wings. In just their third year as a franchise, the Sharks were considered massive underdogs against the high-scoring Red Wings. Led by goaltender Arturs Irbe’s standout performances, the Sharks defied all expectations, clinching a shocking seven-game series victory. This monumental upset not only marked a pivotal moment for the Sharks but also firmly secured their place in the annals of hockey history.


The Sharks’ remarkable upset against the Red Wings in the 1994 playoffs exemplifies the unpredictability and drama that make the NHL postseason so captivating. It serves as a testament to the resilience, determination, and tenacity required to overcome the odds and achieve success in the playoffs. This unforgettable series rightfully earns its place among the Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time, reminding fans and teams alike that in hockey, anything is possible.

9. Toronto Maple Leafs’ Historic Comeback (1942)

The 1942 Stanley Cup Finals produced a historic comeback that has since become legendary in NHL lore. Facing a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 series deficit against the Detroit Red Wings, the Toronto Maple Leafs refused to back down. In a stunning display of resilience and determination, the Maple Leafs mounted an unprecedented comeback, winning four consecutive games to capture the Stanley Cup.

This remarkable turnaround remains the only instance in NHL history where a team has rebounded from a 3-0 series deficit to claim the championship. Such an extraordinary achievement unquestionably solidifies the Maple Leafs’ inclusion in the Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time.


The Maple Leafs’ remarkable comeback in the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals serves as a timeless reminder of the unpredictability and drama that define playoff hockey. It exemplifies the sheer will and character required to overcome adversity and achieve greatness on the sport’s grandest stage. This historic upset against the Red Wings is a testament to the enduring spirit of the Maple Leafs and their indelible impact on the NHL’s rich tapestry of memorable playoff moments.

8. New York Islanders End Pittsburgh Penguins Dynasty (1993)

In 1993, the Pittsburgh Penguins were riding high on the wave of two consecutive Stanley Cup victories and were poised to clinch a historic third straight championship. Led by superstars like Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, the Penguins were widely considered the favorites against the New York Islanders in the Patrick Division Finals. However, the Islanders, despite missing their key forward Pierre Turgeon due to an injury sustained from a controversial hit by Dale Hunter in the previous series, proved to be a formidable opponent.

The Islanders showcased exceptional resilience and determination throughout the series, consistently challenging the Penguins with their tenacious defense and opportunistic offense. The series reached a dramatic climax in Game 7, where the Islanders stunned the hockey world with a thrilling overtime victory. David Volek became the hero of the night, scoring the decisive goal that sealed the Islanders’ upset win over the Penguins.

This stunning upset not only ended the Penguins’ bid for a third consecutive Stanley Cup but also signaled the dawn of a new era for the Islanders, securing their place in the annals of hockey history and earning them a well-deserved spot in the Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time.

7. Chicago Blackhawks’ Unexpected Triumph (1938)

The 1937-38 Chicago Blackhawks entered the NHL playoffs as significant underdogs. After a lackluster regular season performance that left them with a subpar record, the Blackhawks were largely written off by both fans and experts alike. Their path to the Stanley Cup seemed improbable, especially with formidable opponents like the Montreal Canadiens and New York Americans standing in their way.

However, the Blackhawks had other plans and showcased a remarkable resilience and determination that belied their regular-season form. Led by standout performances from players like Carl Voss and Paul Thompson, the Blackhawks managed to defy all odds and upset their higher-seeded rivals. They navigated through the playoffs with a combination of grit, teamwork, and timely goal-scoring, culminating in a stunning Stanley Cup victory.

This unexpected triumph by a team that had struggled to find consistency during the regular season remains one of the most memorable underdog stories in NHL history, firmly cementing the 1937-38 Chicago Blackhawks’ place in the Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs Shock Montreal Canadiens (1945)

The 1944-45 Montreal Canadiens were considered one of the best teams ever, boasting an impressive .800 winning percentage. However, the Toronto Maple Leafs had other plans. Led by goaltender Frank McCool, the Leafs pulled off a stunning upset, defeating the heavily favored Canadiens in a hard-fought series. This remarkable victory by the Maple Leafs against all odds is a testament to the unpredictability of the NHL playoffs and earns them a spot in the Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time.

5. Montreal Canadiens Rally Against Washington Capitals (2010)

The 2009-2010 Washington Capitals were a force to be reckoned with, boasting one of the most potent offenses in NHL history. However, they met their match in the Montreal Canadiens. Despite being massive underdogs, the Canadiens rallied back from a 3-1 series deficit to stun the Capitals in a thrilling Game 7. This remarkable comeback by the Canadiens against the odds cements their place in the Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time.

4. Minnesota Wild’s Shocking Victory over Colorado Avalanche (2003)

The 2003 Western Conference quarterfinals witnessed one of the most shocking upsets in NHL history. The powerhouse Colorado Avalanche, loaded with Hall of Fame talent, were expected to cruise past the Minnesota Wild. However, the Wild had other plans, pulling off an incredible comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to win the series in Game 7 with an overtime goal from Andrew Brunette. This stunning upset by the Wild against the odds secures their place in the Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time.

3. San Jose Sharks Stun St. Louis Blues (2000)

The 1999-2000 St. Louis Blues were favorites to win the Stanley Cup, boasting an impressive defensive style of play. However, the San Jose Sharks had other plans. Despite being underdogs, the Sharks stunned the Blues, winning the series in Game 7 with a game-winning goal from Owen Nolan. This shocking upset by the Sharks against the odds is a testament to the unpredictability of the NHL playoffs and earns them a spot in the Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time.

2. Los Angeles Kings’ Miracle on Manchester (1982)

The 1982 Smythe Division semifinals witnessed the Los Angeles Kings pulling off one of the most remarkable comebacks in NHL history. Facing a formidable Edmonton Oilers team, the Kings staged an incredible rally from a 5-0 deficit to win the game in overtime. This miraculous comeback by the Kings against the odds is a testament to the spirit of the NHL playoffs and earns them a spot in the Top 10 NHL Playoff Upsets of All Time.

1. Edmonton Oilers Shock Detroit Red Wings (2006)

The 2006 Western Conference quarterfinals witnessed the Edmonton Oilers pulling off the greatest upset in NHL playoff history. Facing the dominant Detroit Red Wings, the Oilers, despite being massive underdogs, rallied to win the series in six games, culminating in a thrilling comeback in Game 6 with a game-winning goal from Ales Hemsky. This incredible upset by the Oilers against the odds is a testament to the unpredictability and drama of the NHL playoffs, earning them the top spot in the Top 10 NHL Playoffs Upsets of All Time.


In conclusion, the NHL playoffs have witnessed numerous memorable upsets throughout its history, showcasing the unpredictable nature of the sport. From underdog stories to dramatic comebacks, these moments have left an indelible mark on the hearts of hockey fans worldwide. The Top 10 NHL Playoff Upsets of All Time celebrate these remarkable feats, highlighting the resilience, determination, and spirit of the teams and players who defied the odds to etch their names in NHL playoff history.


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