blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: NHL Playoff Sweeps Without Surrendering Lead

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

NHL Playoff Sweeps Without Surrendering Lead

When a team wins the first four games of a playoff series they are said to have swept the series and their opponent. When the victor does so NEVER trailing in any of the four games, they have completed the rare feat of a PERFECT sweep.

Of the 726 best-of-seven NHL Stanley Cup playoff series played through 2021, 124 (17%) have resulted in a sweep.  Only 19 of those 726 series (2.6%), however, ended in a perfect sweep or annihilation.

The chart below describes every such perfect sweep (or annihilation, if you prefer), showing the playoff year, matchup and round of the rarity.

Year       Matchup Round
1946   Montreal over Chicago   Semifinal 
1952 Detroit over Montreal   Final
1954 Montreal over Boston Semifinal
1960 Montreal over Chicago Semifinal

Montreal over Toronto Final
1969 Boston over Toronto Quarterfinal

St. Louis over Philadelphia Quarterfinal
1977 Montreal over St. Louis Quarterfinal
1978 Montreal over Toronto  Semifinal
1979 New York* over Chicago Quarterfinal
1987 Detroit over Chicago  Preliminary
1989 Pittsburgh over New York**    Preliminary
1992 Chicago over Detroit  Quarterfinal
1995 Detroit over San Jose Quarterfinal
2000 Detroit over Los Angeles Preliminary
2009 Detroit over Columbus Preliminary
2013 Boston over Pittsburgh Semifinal
2015 Chicago over Minnesota Quarterfinal
2021 Montreal over Winnipeg Quarterfinal

*   New York Islanders
** New York Rangers

The Montreal Canadiens lead the league with seven perfect sweeps and are the only team to do it twice in a single postseason. That happened in 1960 when Montreal annihilated both the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs en route to their fifth straight Stanley Cup championship. Chicago, on the other hand, owns the honor of being on the losing end of a perfect sweep four times, leading all teams in this category.

Breaking it down by round, the most annihilations have happened in the Quarterfinal (8), followed by the Semifinal (5), Preliminary (4) and Final (2).  The last team to be so swept in the Cup Final was the Toronto Maple Leafs 62 years ago, adding to their dreary postseason history.

Of the one sweep thus far in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Colorado over Nashville), the Predators managed to hold a one goal lead for just under five minutes in the third period of Game 4 avoiding the distinction of making this historic list.
Beware of the brooms. But avoid annihilation at all costs.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Sweeps

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