Since Thursday is the final regular season home game for the Penguins at Mellon Arena -- currently the oldest building in the NHL -- and since I grew up watching hockey there (and, frankly, still watch hockey there) here is a rundown of my favorite moments at Mellon Arena. There's nothing scientific about it: just my own personal favorites. Feel free to disagree or share your own favorite memories. Or yell at me because there are still playoff games to be played there.
10. Wayne Gretzky's First Game In Pittsburgh: Players vs. Players vs. Fans
I never get tired of posting this video. In what was Wayne Gretzky's first ever game in Pittsburgh, a bench-clearing brawl on the ice nearly erupted into a riot in the stands. Old time hockey at its finest. The best part of the video is former Mellon Arena organist Vince Lascheid belting out a tune as players on the ice attempt to clean up the carnage.
9. Lemieux vs. Gretzky, Lemieux Scores Five Goals
This was during Gretzky's brief stint with the St. Louis Blues and ended up being one of Lemieux's five-goal efforts. He looked so dominate on this night that he almost ended up with a sixth goal on more than one occasion. (Video)
8. Ron Hextall Chases Rob Brown
7. Schoenfeld vs. Trottier
While everybody loves to talk up the Crosby vs. Ovechkin "rivalry," I still believe that the Penguins vs. Capitals was more intense (and better) over a decade ago when they were meeting in the playoffs every season. Need an example? Jim Schoenfeld and Bryan Trottier try to climb over the glass to fight each other during a playoff game.
6. Mario Returns, Plays Like He Never Left
After a three-year retirement, Lemieux returned to the lineup on Dec. 27, 2000, and recorded a goal and two assists. He finished the season with 76 points (35 goals, 41 assists) in just 43 games. The Penguins advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the New Jersey Devils in five games. (Video)
5. Keith Primeau Wins It In Overtime
One of the many marathon hockey games on ESPN that was announced by Steve Levy. The Penguins won the first two games of the series in Philadelphia, only to return to Pittsburgh and drop the next two, in overtime, including this epic five overtime bout that was ended with a perfectly placed shot from the Flyers' Keith Primeau. Ron Tugnutt and Brian Boucher were incredible in net, with Tugnutt stopping over 70 shots before getting beat by Primeau. Simply an incredible hockey game. The Flyers went on to win the series in six games. (Video)
4. 1999 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 6
There was a belief that this could have been the final hockey game in Pittsburgh. The Devils led the series, 3-2, and the Penguins' future, as it always seemed to be, was in doubt. Jaromir Jagr, who had missed some time earlier in the series, was a game-time decision and not only played, but played one of the best games of his career in Pittsburgh, tying the game with less than two minutes to play in regulation, and then winning it in overtime. (Video)
3. Mario Lemieux Splits The D vs. Minnesota
Perhaps the signature goal of Mario Lemieux's career.
2. 1992 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 1
This game alone could have had three different moments on such a list. The fact the Penguins overcame a three-goal deficit, Jaromir Jagr's incredible individual effort to tie the game, 4-4, late in the third period and Mario Lemieux's game-winning goal with less than 20 seconds remaining. It was easier to just put the entire game at No. 2. (Video)
1. Lemieux Scores Five Goals Five Different Ways
Even strength, shorthanded, power play, penalty shot, empty net. I put this at the top simply because it is an accomplishment that will likely never be repeated. By anybody. I have to imagine that a hat trick with any of that combination is rare enough, but all five ways? In a single game? How many times do we even see a five-goal game anymore? A lot of arenas will play host to Stanley Cup Finals, great All-Star games and great games in general; but no building will ever host this type of accomplishment.