Pittsburgh Penguins History: Tom Barrasso’s Historic Playoff Run

Pittsburgh Penguins, Tom Barrasso, Glenn Cratty /Allsport
Pittsburgh Penguins, Tom Barrasso, Glenn Cratty /Allsport /

Tom Barrasso is often considered to be the best goaltender not to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. While a mystery surrounds the reasons why he is yet to be inducted, his impact on the Pittsburgh Penguins cannot be understated.

Tom Barrasso was born on Mar. 31, 1965, in Boston, Massachusetts, and in honor of the legendary goaltender’s birthday, here is a series-by-series look at some of his best performances during the Pittsburgh Penguins 1992 Stanley Cup run.

Capital Punishment

The Penguins first-round match-up vs. Washington went the full distance of 7 games.

Despite allowing 20 goals through the first four games of the series, Barrasso found a way to keep Pittsburgh competitive long enough to take the series in seven games.

Barrasso’s finest performance came in game 6 of the series on Apr. 29, 1992, a 6-4 Penguins win to draw the series even at three games each.

With Pittsburgh carrying a 2-0 lead on goals from Kevin Stevens midway through the first period, Washington rattled off four consecutive goals and looked like a team poised to vanquish the defending champions.

Following Al Iafrate‘s goal early in the second period to put the Capitals up by two, Pittsburgh could have recoiled in horror, but a goal from Joe Mullen breathed new life into the Penguins.

Barrasso went into pure lockdown mode the rest of the way, as Pittsburgh proceed to tie the game and eventually took the lead on Mario Lemieux‘s fifth goal of the post-season.

Lemieux would also add the insurance marker with 5 minutes remaining in the third to secure the win for Pittsburgh.

Barrasso’s record in the series was 4-3-0, with a goals-against-average (GAA) of 3.64 and overall Barrasso made 163 saves on 186 shots.

On Broadway

The Penguins second-round matchup vs. the New York Rangers featured some intriguing events that many in the hockey world thought would spell the end of the frozen reign of the Penguins.

Injuries claimed Lemieux, Mullen, and Bob Errey during the course of the series and Pittsburgh faced a steep challenge if they were to advance to the Conference finals.

With the specter of falling down 3-1 in the series to the best team in the league during the regular series hanging over the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Barrasso’s best performance occurred in game 4  on May 9, 1992.

Pittsburgh battled back from 3-1 and 4-2 deficits to send the game into overtime after Troy Loney tied the game midway through the third period.

Ron Francis completed the hat trick after he scored the game-winning goal on a Jeff Beukeboom holding penalty just two minutes into the extra frame.

Barrasso made 26 saves in the victory and with it kept the series alive. Pittsburgh would win the next two games by scores of 3-2, and 5-1 to secure their meeting in the conference finals against Boston.

Overall, Barrasso’s record for the series was 4-2-0 with a GAA of 2.98, and 187 saves on 205 shots.

Beantown Beatdown

When the Penguins and Bruins met to decide who would represent the Prince of Wales Conference in the Stanley Cup final, it marked the second consecutive year in that the two teams met for that honor.

In 1991, Boston took games 1 and 2 of the series, only to drop the next 4 games to Pittsburgh.

The Bruins were hoping that history would not repeat itself, but Barrasso and the Penguins had other ideas.

Barrasso’s best game of the conference finals ironically occurred in game one of the series.

Barrasso made 38 saves on 41 shots as Pittsburgh gutted out a 4-3 overtime victory in front of the hometown crowd on Jaromir Jagr‘s seventh goal of the playoffs.

Game one was the closest of the series as Pittsburgh’s offense exploded for 19 goals and they eliminated Boston in four games, securing 5-2, 5-1, 5-1, victories in the next three games.

Barrasso and the Penguins defense suppressed Boston’s goal scorers and limited their output to just 7 goals through the full conference final.

Barrasso went 4-0-0, making 115 saves on 122 shots and earning a GAA of 1.69.

Chi-town Showdown

While Barrasso and the Penguins rode a 7 game win streak into the Stanley Cup final, their opponents the Chicago Blackhawks were riding a rave of success themselves.

The Blackhawks stacked up 11 consecutive victories and in an equally impressive feat, Ed Belfour was in goal for all 11 games which produced a record-setting run.

With each game in the series won on a razor-thin margin, game three represents Barrasso’s finest of the series.

With the Penguins looking to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the series, and the Blackhawks looking to secure a win, Barrasso faced 27 shots and earned his only shutout of the postseason.

Kevin Stevens mounted the only offense of the contest by scoring his 12th goal of the playoffs late in the first period.

Pittsburgh captured the Stanley Cup with a 6-5 victory in game 4 and Barrasso matched Belfour’s streak of 11 straight wins.

Overall Barrasso went 4-0-0 during the series and made 99 saves on 109 shots, with a GAA of 2.50.

Barrasso’s cumulative record for the postseason was 16-5-0 in 21 games played with one shutout and a GAA of 2.82

What are some of your favorite moments from Barrasso’s record-setting run? Drop a comment below.