Following six consecutive wins by teams facing elimination over the past four nights, the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs will peak with three Game 7s to begin the Labor Day long weekend.
Both berths in the Western Conference Final will be decided today with a pair of games at Rogers Place in Edmonton, where the Colorado Avalanche will take on the Dallas Stars (4 p.m., ET, USA Network, Sportsnet, TVAS), followed by the Vegas Golden Knights against the Vancouver Canucks (9 p.m., ET, NBCSN, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS). The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders will decide their Eastern Conference Second Round series on Saturday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto (7:30 p.m., ET, NBC, CBC, TVAS), with the winner advancing to the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Rallying From 3-1 Deficits
* Since Monday, the Avalanche, Canucks and Flyers all have rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7, marking just the second time in NHL history that three teams have staged such a comeback in the same playoff round. Four teams did so in the eight series of the 1992 Division Semifinals.
* All six victories by teams facing elimination since Monday have been recorded by goaltenders making their NHL playoff debut this season, Colorado’s Michael Hutchinson, Philadelphia’s Carter Hart and Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko. The trio has posted a collective 6-0 record, 1.77 GAA and .950 save percentage in those contests.
* This is the first time since 2014 that the Second Round has featured three Game 7s and sixth time overall that the round-of-eight has featured three Game 7s (1986, 1987, 2001, 2009 and 2014 all had three).
* This is the fifth time in the last seven postseasons that the Second Round has featured multiple Game 7s, following three in 2014 and two each in 2016, 2017 and 2019. It happened only five times in 19 postseasons from 1994 to 2013 that the second round, known as the Conference Semifinals, had multiple Game 7s (2001, 2002, 2009, 2010 and 2013).
Colorado vs. Dallas – Today at 4 p.m., ET (USA Network, Sportsnet, TVAS)
* The Avalanche/Nordiques franchise owns an all-time record of 6-8 in its 14 previous Game 7s. Colorado has lost its past four such appearances and will be shooting for its first win since a 1-0 decision over San Jose in the 2002 Western Conference Semifinals. The Stars/North Stars are 5-8 in their 13 all-time Game 7s. They are in quest of their first winner-take-all victory since eliminating the Avalanche in the Western Conference Final in 1998-99 and 1999-2000 (0-3 since).
* The teams have combined for 48 goals, the second-highest total through the first six games of a series in the past 24 years. The Flyers (30) and Penguins (26) totaled 56 in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, which ended in six games. Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon leads the series in scoring with 5-7–12 and has an active 14-game point streak to begin the postseason, tied for the second-longest such run in League history (Bryan Trottier, NYI: first 18 GP in 1981).
* The most Game 7 experience on the Stars roster is found in a pair of major offseason free agent signings, veteran forwards Joe Pavelski and Corey Perry (both 7 GP). The Avalanche’s leader in Game 7 appearances was an offseason trade acquisition, forward Andre Burakovsky (5 GP). Pavelski, Perry and Burakovsky each have scored three career goals in Game 7s, the most on both rosters.
*The Avalanche are vying to win a best-of-seven series they trailed 3-1 for the first time in franchise history (0-4), while the Stars have yet to lose a series when leading 3-1 since moving from Minnesota to Dallas in 1993. The Stars/North Stars franchise is 10-1 overall with a 3-1 series lead, its lone setback coming as the Minnesota North Stars vs. Detroit in 1992.
Vegas vs. Vancouver – Today at 9 p.m., ET (NBCSN, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS)
* The Golden Knights will be appearing in a Game 7 for the second time in their three NHL seasons. They dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the San Jose Sharks, then led by their current head coach Peter DeBoer, in the First Round last season. Vegas had held a 3-1 series lead. DeBoer is 4-0 all-time in Game 7s as an NHL head coach.
* The Canucks’ comeback has been backstopped by Thatcher Demko, whose 48 saves in Game 6 Thursday night were the most by a rookie goaltender in a playoff shutout since the statistic was first recorded by the NHL in 1955-56. Demko has turned aside 90 of 91 shots (.989 save percentage) in winning Games 5 and 6.
* The Canucks are 6-5 all-time in Game 7s and will be skating in one for the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final (4-0 loss to Boston). Two current Canucks, defensemen Alexander Edler and Christopher Tanev, remain from the 2011 team that faced Boston. The 2020 squad is vying to become the fourth Canucks team to win a series it had trailed 3-1, joining those from 1992 (Division Semifinals vs. Winnipeg), 1994 (Conference Quarterfinals vs. Calgary) and 2003 (Conference Quarterfinals vs. St. Louis).
* Players with the most Game 7 experience on the Golden Knights roster are goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (3-4, 2.25 GAA, .916 save pct. in 7 GP with Pittsburgh and Vegas) and forward Paul Stastny (4-4–8 in 5 GP with Colorado, St. Louis, Winnipeg and Vegas). Canucks forward Jay Beagle has played in a team-leading seven Game 7s, all with Washington, while forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli are a combined 7-0 in Game 7s from their time with Los Angeles.
Philadelphia vs. NY Islanders – Saturday, Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m., ET (NBC, CBC, TVAS)
* The teams will be meeting in a Game 7 for the third time, following Flyers wins at the Spectrum in the 1975 Semifinals and 1987 Patrick Division Final.
* The Flyers, 9-7 all-time in Game 7s, will be playing their first winner-take-all game since 2014, when the New York Rangers, led by current Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault, eliminated Philadelphia in the First Round. Vigneault is 5-2 in seven Game 7 appearances as a head coach with Vancouver and the Rangers.
* Vigneault and Islanders head coach Barry Trotz (2-2 in Game 7s) have met before in a winner-take-all situation. Vigneault’s Rangers defeated Trotz’ Washington Capitals in overtime of Game 7 in their 2015 Second Round series, capping a comeback from a 3-1 series deficit.
* The Islanders are 3-5 in Game 7s and are in quest of their first such victory since upsetting the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1993 Patrick Division Final (0-2 since). The Islanders’ most recent appearance was a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in the 2015 First Round.
* The Flyers are aiming to win a best-of-seven series they trailed 3-1 for just the second time. In 2010, Philadelphia fashioned a historic comeback against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, rallying to win the series from a 3-0 deficit. The Islanders have never lost a best-of-seven series when leading 3-1 (9-0).
Game 7 Trends
Of the 178 all-time Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
* The team that scores first is 132-46 (.742)
* Forty-four have required overtime (24.7%)