For this throwback I am taking you guys back to one of my favorite moments in the modern era of the National Hockey League, and frankly it is one that I believe has been far too often overlooked. Now first and foremost I will admit that there is a good reason this doesn't make any highlight reels promoted by the National Hockey League and that reason is that the play was of course an illegal one.
The date is March 25th 2006 and the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs are facing off for their 8th and final time that season. Tensions were running high in this game from the very beginning but, with the Canadiens having a comfortable 6 - 2 lead, in the final 2 minutes of the game Toronto Maple Leafs forward Darcy Tucker took things to the next level. Habs forward Alexei Kovalev was attempting to cut across the ice just inside the Leafs blue line when Tucker targeted him and hit him with what was clearly an elbow to the head. Kovalev could be seen clutching at his face while looking at the referee in disbelief that there had been no call, and that is when he took matters into his own hands.
What would come next is one of the most impressive displays of skill I have seem in an NHL game. I'm not being hyperbolic here, Koavel would go on to recover from the elbow to the head and proceeded to chase down the puck, but he wasn't looking to obtain to score or make a play on behalf of his team. Instead when Kovalev manage to get the puck he skated around the Leafs zone, never losing control of the puck, because he was looking for the aforementioned Darcy Tucker. When he saw him Kovalev headed straight for the Maple Leafs forward and then pretended to lose control of the puck, only to surprise Tucker with a massive elbow to the head of his own, taking the tough Maple Leaf off of his skates and sending him into a fit of rage.
It was a dirty play from Kovalev to be sure, but it was an incredibly impressive one and one that Tucker clearly had coming as well.