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The Stanley Cup Final is due for an overtime clincher

Julian Catalfo / theScore

Ten years have passed since Alec Martinez, a depth defenseman with the clutch gene, scored the last overtime clincher in a Stanley Cup Final.

Martinez struck in double OT against the Rangers to seal the Kings' second Cup triumph of the 2010s. He carried the puck out of the defensive zone, helped move it to Tyler Toffoli, and pumped the brakes at the bottom of the left faceoff circle, where he had space to pot a juicy rebound.

Martinez flung his stick and gloves as the horn blared in Los Angeles. Teammates raced to join the celebratory pile.

In the trophy's lifespan, OT winners have enlivened the end of 17 Cup Finals. These dramatic goals daze or anger the losing side while immortalizing the moment of conquest. In the famous tableaus they've produced, Bobby Orr took flight, Brett Hull's skate breached the blue paint, and Patrick Kane's low wrist shot vanished inside the net.

From the 1930s to the 2010s, at least one final per decade was settled in overtime. Some championship clinchers, like the spate scored in the '50s, touched twine in fast flurries. Others were separated by waits of 10-plus years.

Martinez's feat is bound to be replicated soon. Some glue guy or superstar will fulfill the classic childhood dream of netting the Stanley Cup winner when the stakes are highest.

Two early OT heroes were Hall of Fame forwards who refused to be fazed by a scheduling quirk. The staging of the famed Ringling Brothers circus at Madison Square Garden deprived the Rangers of home games in the 1933 and 1940 finals. Those series ended in Toronto on goals by New York's Bill Cook, who scored on a five-on-three power play, and Bryan Hextall - grandfather of Ron, the pugnacious goaltender, and Leah, the ESPN broadcaster.

In the Original Six era, a couple of Red Wings grinders stepped up in Game 7. A backhand flipped through traffic by Pete Babando, scorer of six regular-season goals, proved decisive in the 1950 playoff finale. The '54 Red Wings almost blew a 3-1 series lead, but Tony Leswick's shot from long distance fooled Gerry McNeil, the only goalie to lose multiple Cup Finals after regulation.

McNeil also allowed Bill Barilko's last goal. The 24-year-old Maple Leafs defensive stalwart pinched from the point and dove into a scramble to shovel in the backhand that won the 1951 final, which produced five straight OT classics. Barilko died that summer in a floatplane crash in the Northern Ontario bush, where his body lay until the wreckage was found in 1962.

Parallels connect certain OT clinchers, like those netted by defensemen to seal sweeps.

Orr - winner of the Hart, Norris, Art Ross, and Conn Smythe trophies in 1970 - finished a give-and-go to beat the Blues in the instant before he was tripped while raising his arms in glee. In 1996, Uwe Krupp's slapper in the sixth period of a scoreless dogfight with the Panthers capped the Avalanche's storybook first year in Colorado. Krupp tore up his knee in the season opener but rehabbed intensively to be part of the playoff run.

Other goals of this kind cemented dynasties. The Canadiens won the second of four straight Cups in the 1970s when Jacques Lemaire, the target of a netfront pass following a battle along the wall, snapped it past the outstretched leg of Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers. In 1980, Bob Nystrom dashed behind a Flyers defender to redirect John Tonelli's feed inside the left post, completing the Islanders' first trip to the mountaintop.

Two infamous OT clinchers stoked controversy. Canadiens icon Henri Richard ended the Red Wings in the 1966 final by deflecting a pass over the goal line while being upended. Debate about the play's legality pitted Richard, who claimed the puck glanced off his knee, against Detroit goalie Roger Crozier, who failed to convince the referee that it was swept in by hand.

If video review existed, the grainy footage would have been inconclusive.

Hull, the former Stars sniper, enraged the Sabres in 1999 when he scored the latest Cup winner in any game. His goal at the 114-minute mark, which eluded a sprawling Dominik Hasek, was facilitated by the unmistakeable presence of Hull's left foot in the crease. The NHL's explanation - Hull entered it legally because he maintained possession of the puck - didn't satisfy Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, who screamed at Gary Bettman at ice level.

Since 2000, the Cup's been up for grabs in nine games that required overtime. The trailing team in the matchup scored to prolong the final on six occasions.

Patrik Elias' masterful no-look feed teed up Jason Arnott's winner for the 2000 Devils. Arnott pinned a Stars forward's head to the ice earlier in overtime, but New Jersey killed the cross-checking minor to avoid being pushed to Game 7.

In 2010, Chicago's Brian Campbell denied a Flyers clearance attempt and got the puck to Kane, who snuck it under Michael Leighton's legs. Three Blackhawks in the vicinity - Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Nick Boynton - instantly rejoiced, prompting their teammates to blindly follow suit. One deceptive shot ended a 49-year Cup drought, stunned the Philadelphia crowd, and exhilarated everyone else who saw it.

Nick Faris is a features writer at theScore.

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