Two years ago, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo delivered an all-time performance during the Stanley Cup playoffs. In an agonizing five-overtime defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of their Round-1 matchup, he stopped 85 shots. That broke Kelly Hrudey’s single-game postseason record of 73, set in 1987.
Earlier this week, New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin gave Korpisalo a good run, making 79 saves in a triple-overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, good for the second most ever in a playoff game.
So while Korpisalo’s record is incredible, it doesn’t look unbreakable. Someone almost eclipsed it just two years later.
Some NHL playoff records do seem unbreakable, however. What are they?
Here are my picks for the 10 most unbreakable NHL postseason records.
Disclaimer: I won’t count the Tampa Bay Lightning and Andre Vasilevskiy’s record 18 wins in the 2020 postseason. Unless the NHL deploys a bubble with a round-robin and play-in round again someday, 18 wins is a 100-percent unbreakable record, since the traditional path to a Stanley Cup maxes out at 16 victories. For this list, we’ll look at records that at least theoretically could be broken.
The honorable mention
In 1992-93, the Montreal Canadiens went to overtime a record 11 times in a single playoff run. They won 10 of those games, including 10 straight, during their Stanley Cup-winning spring. So why does it miss the cut? Going to overtime is not reflective of an era. Theoretically, it could still happen 11 times to any team in any year. I don’t consider the streak unbreakable, as anomalous as it was at the time.
10. Rick Middleton: 19 points in one playoff series, 1982-83
We kick it off with a record that’ll be tough to eclipse because playoff games just have far less offense than they did in the 1980s. Goaltending in particular has improved to the point that it’ll be tough for a player to do what ‘Nifty’ Middleton did in 1983. His 19 points in seven games against the Buffalo Sabres in the Adams Division final included 10 in a two-game stretch. The record sits “only” 10th on the list because there is one current player talented enough to produce like this for a seven-game stretch: Connor McDavid. You never know, right?