Dave Hannan (14) faces off against the New York Islanders' Travis Green in the early 1990s. ©2020, Janet Schultz

Sabres at 50: Dave Hannan fondly remembers overtime goal versus Devils

A few years ago, former Buffalo Sabres center Dave Hannan sat down to watch a little television before bed and spotted a replay of the wildest six hours of his 15-year NHL career.

In the years since he scored 5:43 into the fourth overtime on April 27, 1994, he had only caught a few periods of the 1-0 playoff classic the Sabres and New Jersey Devils played until 1:52 a.m. inside Memorial Auditorium.

So Hannan settled in and watched Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal, the longest game in Sabres history.

“I got hooked,” he told the Times Herald on Sunday.

Hannan, whose backhander past a rookie goalie named Martin Brodeur tied the best-of-seven series, said he went to sleep around 3:30 a.m.

“It was a thrill to watch,” he said of the contest best remembered for Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek’s legendary 70-save performance.

For fans looking for their hockey fix because the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended the NHL season, MSG is replaying its first five memorable Sabres games this week at 8 p.m.

The Sabres-Devils game airs tonight. The action will start in the third period.

Of course, Hannan, who lives in Pittsburgh, still hears about the goal. Hannan’s job as director of sales for Smith+Nephew, a medical technology company, regularly brings him to Buffalo and Rochester.

“It does come up,” he said. “It was a big game, it was a big goal. We had a really good team. So when someone brings it up to me, it just brings back great memories.

“Of course, the time I spent in Buffalo and the city and fans, etc., it’s just an awesome place.”

Hannan, 58, played for six NHL teams in his 841-game career. He won the Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1988 and with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.

While he won just one playoff series in his four years in Buffalo – the Sabres lost Game 7 in New Jersey two days later – it’s clear his time in Blue and Gold remains special.

Joining the Sabres might’ve saved Hannan’s career. By 1991-92, he wasn’t doing much for the hapless Toronto Maple Leafs, so they dealt him to Buffalo in exchange for future considerations before the trade deadline.

The fresh start ignited Hannan, who remained a regular throughout his tenure in Buffalo.

Hannan, who scored 120 total NHL goals, earned his keep as a checker. He scored only six goals in 83 games during the 1993-94 regular season.

But facing elimination that night against the Devils, Sabres coach John Muckler utilized the line of Hannan and wingers Jason Dawe and Wayne Presley often.

“We played as much as any other line we had,” Hannan said. “I mean, we were on the ice constantly. We had a lot of good chances.”

On the bench, Hannan said he felt numb as the game went on and on. But on the ice, everything felt pretty normal.

“The emotion in the situation sort of … takes your body and your mind on a trip where you’re just not going to let down,” he said.

Hannan remembers details that are often lost to time. During a phone conversation Sunday, it sounded like he had scored the goal last week, not nearly 26 years ago.

“Getting into that period (the fourth overtime), I know that there was a little bit of a scramble and we always wanted to have a high guy making sure in case we didn’t want to give them any odd-man situations,” he said.

When Dawe cut around Devils defenseman Bruce Driver in the right circle and threw the puck at the net, Presley was in close and got a piece of it as it slipped back.

Hannan and Sabres defenseman Philippe Boucher were both ready to pounce on the puck in the bottom of the right circle.

“I remember looking at Philippe Boucher, and I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to grab it,’” Hannan said. “I just got it, fired it, it went over Brodeur’s glove and game over.”

But Hannan never saw the puck go in, he only caught the red light.

“I just sort of turned and fired it, because I know there was a lot of confusion, Wayne Presley was in front of the net and there was lots of confusion going on,” he said. “I didn’t really see it go in.”

When Hannan realized he scored, he said he had no idea what to do. So he raised his arms, skated out of the zone and slid on his knees as his teammates mobbed him.

“You’re excited but you’re tired,” Hannan said. “Probably when I went down on my knees I was heading toward the exit, let’s get out of here and go to Game 7.”

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