Chris Osgood’s stellar and historic career reached its conclusion Tuesday — the long-time Red Wings goalie announced his retirement during a conference call with Detroit GM Ken Holland.
Osgood walks away from the NHL with 401 regular-season wins (10th-best all time) and three Stanley Cups to his credit. He’ll at least be in serious consideration for a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the case could be made that the Red Wings should hang his No. 30 jersey from the rafters.
It’s been a long, sometimes bumpy ride for Ozzie. And with the potential end of his career in sight, we look back at five of his best highlights as a Red Wing.
No. 5: Osgood Scores vs. Hartford (March 6, 1996)
Osgood is one of 10 goalies to top the 400-win mark in the National Hockey League. He’s one of just nine goalies to score a goal in a regular-season game.
Ozzie’s moment came in his third NHL season at the tail end of an early March win over the now-relocated Whalers in Hartford. With the Red Wings clinging to a 3-2 lead late in the third period and Whalers goalie Sean Burke on the bench for an extra attacker, Osgood knocked down a rolling puck and fired it the length of the ice into the gaping net.
The goal was the only one Osgood scored in his career, though he added two assists in that 1995-96 season. The Red Wings won that night in Hartford, 4-2, with the team’s other three goals coming from Dino Ciccarelli, Slava Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov.
Prior to Osgood’s feat, no goalie had scored a goal since Ron Hextall during the 1989 season.
No. 4: Ozzie Silences the Critics, Sends Detroit Back to Cup Finals (June 5, 1998 vs. Dallas)
After Detroit broke its Stanley Cup drought by winning the 1997 crown, the franchise made the gutsy and controversial decision to let Conn Smythe winner Mike Vernon walk in order to give Chris Osgood a chance to reclaim the starting goalie spot.
Everything went pretty much according to plan for Osgood and Detroit until Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against Dallas. With the Red Wings on the verge of knocking out the Stars and advancing to their second straight Cup finals, Osgood allowed a goal to Guy Carbonneau with just 1:25 left in the third period of that fifth game to tie things at two and send the contest to overtime.
Then, in the early stages of the extra sessions, Osgood was beat by a 70-foot slapshot by Jamie Langenbrunner that extended the series.
Ozzie responded in Game 6, though, shutting out the Stars and making 26 saves to clinch the conference crown. Detroit went on to sweep the Capitals for a repeat title.
No. 3: Win No. 400 (Dec. 27, 2010 at Colorado)
Osgood’s 2010-11 season was a frustrating one filled with injury issues, but he still managed to scrape out five wins. His next-to-last victory of the season came in an overtime thriller against the Avalanche in Colorado, a win that gave Osgood his 400th win and put him in very select company.
Osgood made a whopping 46 saves on the night in a 4-3 overtime triumph. Detroit trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in an exciting first period before taking a 3-2 lead in the third on a Nicklas Lidstrom power-play goal. The Avs’ Matt Duchene answered with a PP goal of his own with just 2:36 left to send the game to OT.
Three minutes and 42 seconds into the extra frame, Niklas Kronwall blasted a one-timer home for the 4-3 Wings win and Ozzie’s 400th.
Osgood would win just one more game during the season.
No. 2: Osgood Saves the Day (April 18, 2008 vs. Nashville
The Red Wings’ 2008 Stanley Cup run nearly died an early death. After taking a 2-0 lead in the first round over the feisty Predators, Detroit dropped a 5-3 decision in Game 3, then surrendered three early goals in Game 4.
It was then that Osgood replaced all-world goalie Dominik Hasek, who just a couple years earlier had brought the Wings yet another Cup. Osgood stopped every shot he faced in relief in Game 4, a 3-2 loss.
He then turned aside 20 Nashville shots two days later in a critical Game 5, which Detroit won 2-1 in overtime to turn the series in its favor once and for all. Osgood followed that performance up with another 20-save outing in Game 6, a 3-0 Wings win.
Hasek never saw the ice again in those playoffs. Osgood won his first nine starts and helped carry Detroit past Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup win. No doubt the final seconds of Game 6 against the Penguins are what’s burned into most fans’ memory banks — Osgood sprawling out to prevent Marian Hossa from tucking in a tying goal in the final seconds, then rising and celebrating with his Detroit teammates.
But without Mike Babcock’s decision to pull Hasek in Game 4 vs. Nashville, then stick with Osgood in Game 5, that moment may never have come.
No. 1: Patrick Roy Challenges Ozzie (April 1, 1998)
The heated Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry hit its peak in the mid-to-late ’90s. During the 1996-97 regular season, as Detroit was on its way to the Stanley Cup, Patrick Roy took on Mike Vernon during an all-out brawl between the Avs and Wings at Joe Louis.
One year later, towards the tail end of the 1997-98 regular season, all hell broke loose again at the Joe during a visit from Colorado. In the midst of another major brouhaha, Roy skated to center ice to challenge the undersized Osgood to a fight.
Vernon held his own during his tussle with Roy and, surprisingly, Osgood did the same.
Any lingering doubts Red Wings fans had about Ozzie heading into the 1998 playoffs seemingly vanished with this battle, which reserved a spot for Osgood in Detroit fans’ hearts forever. The Cup win he brought home just a couple months later cemented that place.