Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Five times Game Two was the Stanley Cup final turning point

The Nashville Predators suffered one of the strangest losses in Stanley Cup final history on Monday, erasing a 3-0 deficit while holding the Penguins without a shot for 37 straight minutes before allowing a back-breaking winning goal late in the third.

The way they lost was bad enough. But just losing at all is a big deal. After all, as we're constantly told, the team that wins Game 1 in the final wins almost 80 percent the series, including each of the last five. To hear some tell it, this one's basically over.

It's tough times to be a Nashville fan. So as we head into Wednesday's crucial second game, let's offer up some hope for anyone rooting for the Predators. Here are five times in Stanley Cup final history that Game 1 didn't end up mattering, and Game 2 turned out to be the series turning point.

1986 – Canadiens vs. Flames

After one game: Calgary went into the final sporting a distinct "team of destiny" feel. After years of living in the Oilers' shadow, the Flames had knocked off their provincial rivals in seven games on Steve Smith's infamous own goal. They arrived in the final holding home ice advantage, and opened the series with a convincing 5-2 win over the Canadiens.

But then: Looking to take a 2-0 series lead back to Montreal, the Flames opened the scoring in the first and added another goal just seconds into the second period. But they let the Habs off the mat, as Montreal came back to send the game to overtime. Once they got there, it didn't take long to make some history.

Brian Skrudland's overtime goal was the fastest in playoff history, and knotted the series at a game apiece.

The rest of the way: The Canadiens didn't drop another game in the series, winning three straight tight ones to take the Stanley Cup in five games.

1974 – Flyers vs. Bruins

After one game: The Bruins and Flyers had been the league's two best teams by a wide margin during the season, with Boston earning home ice throughout the playoffs by a single point thanks to a win on the season's final day. They cashed in on that home ice advantage in Game 1, when Bobby Orr's goal with seconds left in regulation gave them a 3-2 win and a series lead.

But then: The Bruins came out strong in Game 2, scoring twice late in the first to take a 2-0 lead to intermission. The Flyers closed the gap with a goal in the second, but couldn't get any closer as regulation ticked away. But with the Bruins on the verge of taking a two-game lead in the series, Andre Dupont tied it with less than a minute to play, sending the game to overtime. That's where Bobby Clarke scored what may well be the most important goal in franchise history.

The rest of the way: The Flyers would ride the momentum from Clarke's goal to a pair of wins on home ice. The Bruins avoided elimination in Game 5 in Boston, but the Flyers closed the series with a 1-0 win back in Philadelphia, earning the franchise's first Stanley Cup and becoming the first modern expansion team to capture a championship.

>> Read the full post at The Hockey News

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