blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-0

Sunday, April 26, 2015

NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-0

Down 3-0 to the Montreal Canadiens earlier this week, the Ottawa Senators have rallied for two wins in this series heading into Game 6 tomorrow afternoon. History tells us that the Senators have a 1 in 50 chance of completing the comeback, though two teams have turned the trick during during the past four postseasons.

Through 2014, only 4 times in 178 tries (2.2%) has a team comeback to win a series down 3-0 in the playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the first to turn the trick, doing so in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings. The New York Islanders followed 33 years later in their franchise first playoff run, catching the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1975 Quarterfinals. The Philadelphia Flyers did it 35 years after that, beating the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference Final.  Most recently, the Los Angeles Kings upset the San Jose Sharks in the 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Breaking it down by round, teams have held a 3-0 lead 46 times in the Preliminary round, 62 times in the Quarterfinals, 43 times in the Semifinal, and 27 times in the Stanley Cup Final. 110 of 178 times (62%), leading teams took the series in Game 4. Of the 68 teams that have survived a sweep, only 9 (13%) lived to skate in a Game 7.

Once in Game 7, the aforementioned four teams completed the improbable comeback (44%) while the 3-0 series leaders won the remaining 5 times (56%).  Of these nine Game 7s, 6 were decided by one goal, 5 were won by the home team, and 2 were decided in overtime. Teams to lead a series 3-0 and eventually win in Game 7 include the Bruins (1939), Leafs (1945), Flyers (1975), Sharks (2011) and Canucks (2011).
Time will tell if the Senators add their name to this short list of rare playoff comebacks at the expense of their Atlantic Division rival.

* See also NHL Playoff Comebacks Trailing 3-1.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 History.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff First Round Upsets.