June 10, 2009

Seventh Heaven!

For the 14th time in Stanley Cup history the champion will be decided in game seven! Interestingly, it is the 5th time this decade the finals have gone this far.

Good news for Detroit fans. The Red Wings are 4-2 in Stanley Cup finals game 7s.

Bad news for Pittsburgh fans. Teams making comebacks do not usually go all the way. Teams that staved off elimination in game 6 (and earlier) are 5-9.

Here's a year-by-year look back at game sevens in the Stanley Cup finals.

1942 - The Toronto Maple Leafs come back from a 3-0 series deficit and complete their own 4 game sweep over the Detroit Red Wings. Toronto won the game 3-1, with Pete Langelle scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal at 9:48 of the third period.

1945 - The Leafs and Red Wings met again 1945, again going the distance. This time it was the Leafs unthinkably blowing a 3-0 lead, with the Wings winning 3 straight to force game 7. The Red Wings luck ran out, with the Leafs taking game 7 by a score of 2-1. Babe Pratt scored at 12:14 of the third period.

1950 - The Red Wings finally reversed the trend in 1950 taking game 7 against the New York Rangers. But the would need extra time to do it - double overtime, actually! Pete Babando scored the most important goal of his life at 28:31 of extra time.

1954 - The Montreal Canadiens came back from a 3-1 series deficit in 1954 to force game seven against - guess who?! - the Detroit Red Wings. A flukey goal by Tony Leswick at 4:29 of overtime gave the Red Wings the Stanley Cup.

1955 -The Habs and Wings staged a rematch in 1955, but the result was the same. Detroit would win the Cup in game seven. This time the decisive game was not quite as close. The Wings won 3-1, with Gordie Howe scoring the back-breaking winnig goal with just 11 seconds left in the second period.

1964 - For the 6th time in history the Stanley Cup finals would be decided in a dramatic game 7. For the 6th time the Detroit Red Wings were involved. The Wings held a 3-2 lead in this close series, with two games decided in OT and 2 other games decided in the final seconds of the game. Game 7 was not as close, as Johnny Bower shut the door with a 4-0 shutout. Andy Bathgate's early goal at 3:04 of the first period stood the test of time.

Detroit's record in Stanley Cup finals game 7s - 4 wins, 2 losses.

1965 - The Chicago Blackhawks dropped the first 3 games of the finals against the Montreal Canadiens, only to storm back with 3 wins, 2 very convincingly, and force game 7. Jean Beliveau scored the all important opening goal just 14 seconds in the game, sending the Hawks reeling. That goal stood up as the winner as Gump Worsley shut the door in the 4-0 game. After the game Beliveau was the first recipient of the Conn Smythe trophy as playoffs MVP.

1971 - The Hawks and Habs faced off again in a game 7 in 1971. The Hawks learned their lesson from 1965, jumping out to two quick wins in games one and two. The Habs came back, forcing and winning game 7. Henri Richard scored the winning goal in the 3-2 game at 2:34 of the first period. Take note Penguins fans, this was the only time in NHL history that the road team dropped the first two games and came back and won the Stanley Cup.

1987 - Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers and Ron Hextall's Philadelphia Flyers had an epic 7 game series in 1987, with the Oilers winning game 7 by a score of 3-1. Jari Kurri scored the winner at 14:59 of the 2nd. Before game 6 Flyers coach Mike Keenan brought the Stanley Cup into the dressing room to successfully motivate his troops. When he tried to do again before game 7, the Oilers made sure it was nowhere to be found.

1994 - The Vancouver Canucks came back from 3 games to 1 to force game seven against the New York Rangers in 1994. Trevor Linden scored twice, but ultimately the came one Nathan Lafayette goal post short. The Rangers' Mark Messier fittingly scored the game winning goal of the 3-2 game at 13:29 of the 2nd period.

2001 - The Colorado Avalance stayed alive in game 6 and forcing the defending Stanley Cup champions New Jersey Devils to a game seven. Thanks to Alex Tanguay's 2nd period goal the Avs beat the Devils 3-1.

2003 - New Jersey found themselves in a Stanley Cup game 7 again in 2003, this time against the Cinderella Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Again New Jersey could not get the job done in game 6, but the clock struck midnight for the Ducks, as the Devils took game 7 3-0. The unexpected hero was Mike Rupp, who tipped in the Cup winning goal at 2:22 of the 2nd.

2004 - The very next year hockey fans were treated to another dramatic game seven. This time the Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Calgary Flames in a nail-biting 2-1 win, with Ruslan Fedotenko scoring the winning goal at 14:38 of the second.

2006 - Since there was no Stanley Cup awarded in 2005, for the third consecutive playoffs the Cup was awarded in a game 7. The Edmonton Oilers came back from 3 games to 1 to force game 7, but ultimately they could not weather the Hurricanes in game 7. Frantisek Kaberle's goal at 4:18 of the 2nd stood up as the winner in the 3-1 game.

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