Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The five most memorable Game Sevens in conference final history

Well, at least the Senators came through. While the Ducks couldn't stave off elimination in Monday's Game 6 loss to the Predators, the Senators managed to extend their series with the Penguins with Tuesday night's win. That means we'll at least get one Game 7 out of this year's conference finals.

So to celebrate, let's count down the five most memorable conference final Game 7s, dating back to the introduction of the four-round format back in 1975. Here's hoping the Pens and Sens can deliver something that will push for a spot on this list when they meet Thursday night.

No. 5: Devils vs. Senators, 2003

Here's a secret about the 2003 conference final showdown between the Devils and the Senators: It was for the Stanley Cup.

Nobody wanted to say that out loud at the time; it would have been bad form. But the Senators had posted the league's best regular season record, while the Devils had finished fourth overall. With all of the other contenders already eliminated, Ottawa and New Jersey were playing for the right to face the upstart Mighty Ducks in the final. And while Paul Kariya and friends were a great story, nobody gave them much of a chance against either the Senators or Devils.

So this series really did feel like it was for the championship. And the two teams put on a show worthy of those stakes, with the Devils taking a 3-1 series lead before the Senators roared back to force a seventh game thanks to a Chris Phillips overtime winner in Game 6. That set up a deciding game back in Ottawa, and it lived up to the hype. The teams traded goals, Martin Brodeur and Patrick Lalime traded big saves, and we were all tied at 2-2 late in the third.

And then, with overtime looming, it all fell apart for Ottawa thanks to a broken coverage on a harmless-looking rush.

Jeff Friesen's goal held up as the winner, and New Jersey moved on. Those Mighty Ducks turned out to be a tougher opponent than most of us expected, stretching the final to seven games. But the Devils prevailed, capturing their third Cup and leaving Senators fans to agonize over how close they'd come.

>> Read the full post at The Hockey News

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