Photo Credit: Toronto Maple Leafs player scoring goal against Detroit Red Wings, Stanley Cup Finals, 1942

Can the Edmonton Oilers be the fifth NHL team to overcome a 3-0 series deficit?

The Edmonton Oilers are down 3-0 to the Winnipeg Jets. The odds are heavily against them, but a comeback to win the series isn’t impossible.

The feat has only been accomplished four times in NHL history before with five other teams coming close but falling in game sevens. Let’s take a look at each of the four that have been able to do it.

1942 Stanley Cup finals

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Down 3-0 in the series, the Toronto Maple Leafs launched a monumental comeback to pull off the first reverse sweep in NHL history.

The Detroit Red Wings had beat the Leafs in games one and two 3-2, 4-2 both of which being in Toronto. Game three went back to Detroit and saw them snag a 5-2 win. The Leafs stole game four in tight fashion with two third-period goals lifting them from a 3-2 deficit. Syl Apps scored with 14 minutes left in the period to tie it, and Nick Metz scored the game-winner with just over seven minutes left in the game.

The Leafs stole game five in dominating fashion winning 9-3, before Turk Broda recorded a shutout for the team in game six. With the cup on the line, the Leafs were down 1-0 heading into the third frame. That’s before Sweeney Schrlner scored twice and Pete Langelle added one of his own for the Leafs to win.

This was the only time a comeback like this has happened in the finals.

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1975 Stanley Cup quarterfinals

The New York Islanders came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh won games one and two at home 5-4 and 3-1, before taking game three on the road 6-4. It was the last lead they would hold in the series.

In game four, the game was tied at one before Clark Gillies and J.P. Parise scored within 50 seconds of each other six minutes into the third period. Game five saw the Islanders get a lead 2:11 into the game in thanks to Billy Harris and never look back. They won that game 4-2.

Game six was won by the Islanders in a dominant 4-1 game before closing out the series in game seven with a 1-0 win. Both teams held the shutout until Ed Westfall’s goal became the game-winner with just over five minutes left in the game.

2010 Eastern Conference semi-finals

The Philadelphia Flyers are the third team to launch a comeback from a 3-0 deficit. They fell in games one and two in Boston by a score of 5-4 and 3-2, before the Bruins got the series stranglehold 4-1 in game three.

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The game was tied after three periods and the game went to overtime where with just under six minutes left Simon Gagne scored the game-winner for the 5-4 win. Brian Bouchard and Michael Leighton split time in net for the shutout bid in game five as Gagne scored two in a 4-0 win.

In game six Mike Richards got the lead seven minutes into the game, and the Flyers held on for a 2-1 win. Game seven was tied right up until the final seven minutes of the game before Gagne scored once again — this time to clinch a 4-3 series win.

2014 Western Conference first round

Most recently, the LA Kings came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks, and eventually win the Stanley Cup.

San Jose took games one and two at home in dominant fashion with 6-3 and 7-2 wins. In LA for game three, the Sharks snagged a 4-3 overtime win.

But in game four, the Kings dominated and racked up a strong 6-3 win. The Kings hit the road back to San Jose for game five as goals from Tyler Toffoli, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter gave goalie Jonathan Quick a 3-0 shutout win.

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With the series tied, the Kings scored three goals in the third period to win game six 4-1. In game seven, LA jumped out to a 2-1 lead heading into the third before scoring three more in the final frame to clinch the series.

So what do the Oilers need to do?

They need to get lucky. They need to have some bounces go their way, and they need to win four games. The Oilers have run straight into one of the hottest goalies in the league who has absolutely dialed in his game at the right time.

Connor Hellebuyck, despite allowing four goals yesterday, still has saved six goals above expected through the first three games of the series. A .958 team save percentage in all situations has surely helped their case, too, as has their heavily inflated 106.3 PDO. If there’s one thing we know about PDO, it’s that it’s typically unsustainable over time.

Edmonton needs to get to Hellebuyck early and often, and remember that they can hold onto leads without blowing the game.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]


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