A few days ago I was involved in an online discussion about the phenomenon of NHL teams coming back in playoff series from 3-1 down to force game 7. This was in the context of the Montreal-Boston series, which Montreal had seemed to have in hand before gacking up games 5 and 6. Specifically, we were wondering what tended to happen in game 7 of such series. Did the team that had led 3-1 tend to get its act together and win out, or did the team that came back and forced game 7 have the upper hand? There seemed to be only one thing to do. Here, then, is the list of best-of-7 series wherein a team has led 3 games to 1, only to end up playing game 7. Some observations will follow.
|Year||Team With 3-1 Lead||Opponent||Game 7 Winner|
|2003||New Jersey||Ottawa||New Jersey|
|2003||Vancouver||Minnesota Wild||Minnesota Wild|
|2003||Colorado||Minnesota Wild||Minnesota Wild|
|2000||Philadelphia||New Jersey||New Jersey|
|2000||San Jose||St. Louis||San Jose|
|1999||Phoenix||St. Louis||St. Louis|
|1994||NY Rangers||Vancouver||NY Rangers*|
|1992||Minnesota North Stars||Detroit||Detroit|
|1991||Detroit||St. Louis||St. Louis|
|1989||Edmonton||Los Angeles||Los Angeles|
|1987||Washington||NY Islanders||NY Islanders|
|1975||Pittsburgh||NY Islanders||NY Islanders+|
|1968||St. Louis||Philadelphia||St. Louis|
|* = Stanley Cup Finals|
|+ = Series was at 3-0|
- The table has been updated to include the Montreal-Boston and Washington-Philadelphia from this season.
- Out of 40 series, 20 have been won by the team who originally held the 3-1 lead, and 20 by the team that came back. So, you can for all intents and purposes flip a coin.
- Astonishingly, for two teams that have been around since the NHL introduced best-of-7 series, this year marked the first time that Montreal has ever coughed up a 3-1 lead and gone to game 7, and the first time that Boston has ever managed to come back from 3-1 down.
- Philadelphia is the worst culprit when it comes to giving up 3-1 leads, having done it five times. The Flyers have recovered to win three of those series.
- The two teams that have most accomplished the feat of forcing a game 7 after being 3-1 down are the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders, with four apiece. Vancouver has gone on to win three of those game 7s, the Islanders two. However, the Islanders deserve some credit for forcing a game 7 after being down 3-0 twice in the same playoff year!