One-goal games and comebacks rule in 2016/17 NHL playoffs

It’s never hard to tell when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is in the house during league events as he’s always greeted by a chorus of boos. However, it’s a little hard to figure out why since Bettman has brought parity to the world’s best hockey league and its unpredictability is one of the reasons fans are so addicted to it. You never know who’s going to win from night to night and this year’s playoffs have been a great example of that.

One-goal victories and comeback wins have been a highlight of the current postseason and it appears no lead is safe anymore. Fans saw one of the greatest come-from-behind wins in playoff history during the second round of the Western Conference when the Anaheim Ducks erased a late 3-0 deficit to win 4-3. The Ducks trailed the Edmonton Oilers with just 3:16 remaining in the third period in game five and managed to score three times with goalie John Gibson pulled for an extra attacker.

Rickard Rakell tied the game with just 15 seconds to go and Corey Perry won it for the home team at the 6:57 mark of the second overtime period. It was the second time in this year’s playoffs that Anaheim has erased a tree-goal deficit to win. They also trailed the Flames 4-1 in Calgary in game three of their first round series and won it 5-4 in overtime. Anaheim has fought back five times from multi-goal deficits this postseason and won four of those games.

The Ducks are now tied with four other teams for four multi-goal comeback wins during a postseason while the Philadelphia Flyers hold the record with five, set in the 1986/87 campaign. There have been 14 multi-goal comebacks in the this year’s playoffs which is just one shy of the record of 15 set in 2013/14. Edmonton was also involved in the only other NHL playoff game which saw a team wipe out a three-goal deficit with just four minutes to play in a game.

They found themselves trailing the Dallas Stars 3-0 at home with four minutes to go in the third game of the Western Conference quarterfinals on April 20th, 1997. The Oilers banged in two goals in 12 seconds and three in 1:56 to tie the game with 2:04 on the clock. They then won it at 9:15 of overtime. There has been 31 comeback wins in the 2016/17 playoffs in which a team has won after trailing by at least a goal. The record is 45 which was set in 1989/90.

The Nashville Predators have also excelled in comebacks this postseason with five come-from-behind wins.  As for one-goal victories in this year’s playoffs, there has been 48 of them up until May 22nd. The all-time record is 51 in 81 games which was set in 2006/07. There was a single-round record of 18 overtime games this season in the first round of the playoffs with the Washington vs Toronto series going past regulation time in five of their six contests.

Four games went to an extra period on the same night on April 17th. It was the third time in history that four games needed overtime on the same day and the first time it happened since 1984/85. The first time it occurred was in 1979/80. There’s also a chance the record for overtime games in a single playoff season will fall this year as there has been 26 of them so far with the record being 28 which was set in 1992/93. The Conference Finals still aren’t over yet and we then have the Stanley Cup Finals to go.


So whatever it is Bettman is doing to the NHL, fans should appreciate the closeness of the league these days. Yes there has still been a few blowouts in this year’s postseason, but the salary cap has definitely helped with the parity issue. We could also see this year’s 16th-seeded playoff team the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final.