If you’ve heard it once you’ve probably heard it a thousand times on the SinBin podcast. Teams need to win odd-numbered games to clinch a series. So far, the Golden Knights haven’t done that in the Western Conference Final. While losing the first and third contests of a seven-game series isn’t ideal, plenty of teams have actually advanced in that position.
Since the 1999-2000 season, eight teams have gone on to win a conference final or Stanley Cup final after losing Games 1 and 3 of the series. Over the past 20 years it’s been accomplished four times in the Western Conference finals, three in the Eastern Conference finals, and twice in the Stanley Cup finals. Including last season’s Cup winner the St. Louis Blues, who did it twice in their championship run. Vegas is hoping to be the ninth team, starting by winning Game 4 (something all nine teams did).
Teams That Won WCF Losing Game 1 & 3
2000: Dallas Stars- won in seven (won 4, 5, 7)
2007: Anaheim Ducks- won in six (won 4, 5, 6)
2015: Chicago Blackhawks- won in seven (won 4, 6, 7)
2019: St. Louis Blues- won in seven (won 4, 5, 6)
Pete DeBoer is no stranger to the situation his current team is in. In 2012, DeBoer’s New Jersey Devils lost the first and third games of the Eastern Conference finals and stormed back to win the series in six. Seven years later he was on the other end as the coach of the San Jose Sharks. In last year’s Western Conference final, the Blues overcame defeats in game one and three to outlast the Sharks in seven.
Teams That Won ECF Losing Game 1 & 3
2006: Carolina Hurricanes- won in seven (won 4, 5, 7)
2012: NJ Devils- won in six (won 4, 5, 6)
2017: Pittsburgh Penguins- won in seven (won 4, 5, 7)
Vegas forward Mark Stone went through a similar series in 2017. Stone’s Senators won the first and third games of the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh. The Penguins clawed back and advanced to the Stanley Cup final in dramatic fashion. Stone and his teammates not only lost a series they had control of, but were defeated in double overtime of Game 7. I’m sure that burn still motivates Stone to this day. Hopefully, he’ll erase that painful memory by eliminating the Stars.
Teams That Won SCF Losing Game 1 & 3
2004: TB Lightning- won in seven (won 4, 6, 7)
2019: St. Louis Blues- won in seven (won 4, 5, 7)
Not only did the St. Louis Blues spoil DeBoer and the Sharks chance at a Stanley Cup last season, but they captured the Stanley Cup in the same manner. The Blues lost the first and third Cup final games but went on to beat the Boston Bruins in seven games.
Including the Blues, teams have rallied to clinch their conference after facing a series deficit of either 2-1 or 3-2 in each of the last five postseasons. All five of those teams went on to capture the Stanley Cup.
Won Cup Down 2-1 or 3-2 In Conference Final
2015: Chicago trailed series 3-2
2016: Pittsburgh trailed series 3-2
2017: Pittsburgh trailed series 2-1
2018: Washington trailed series 3-2
2019: St. Louis trailed series 2-1
While the numbers show the majority of conference champions were in better positions than the Golden Knights, it doesn’t mean the end is near. If the last five Stanley Cup champions can dust themselves off after facing some adversity, this year’s victor can do the same.
It has to start with a win tonight and for the most part a win in Game 5 must go with it. Going down 3-1 is basically a death trap and battling back to tie the series at two only to fall down 3-2 has only worked for two teams in the past decade.
Teams that hold a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series own an all-time series record of 288-29 (.909), including a 10-0 mark in 2020. Additionally, since the conference format was adopted ahead of the 1981-82 season, teams that hold a 3-1 lead in the Conference Finals own an all-time series record of 34-1 (.971). -NHL PR
Right now, I don’t know who the one team is in that 34-1 stat, and hopefully, tonight’s game makes it so that I don’t have to look it up.