It is very likely that the 2021 NHL season ends tonight.
The Montreal Canadiens are faced with the monumental task of having to win four games in a row against the Lightning, who, don’t even lose two games in a row. Heck, they barely lose against the Canadiens in generally having won 12 in a row against the Habs since 2018.
In fact, facing an 0-3 series deficit in a best-of-7 series is incredibly rare across all sports let alone just hockey. In the history of the NHL, NBA, and MLB, a team trailing 0-3 in series have come back to win just five times. Four of them been in hockey with the lone other example coming in MLB when the Boston Red Sox overcame a 0-3 deficit to beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS.
Here are the instances in which it occurred in the NHL:
1942 – Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings (Stanley Cup Final)
1975 – New York Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins (Stanley Cup Quarterfinal)
2010 – Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Boston Bruins (Stanley Cup Conference Semifinal)
2014 – Los Angeles Kings defeated the San Jose Sharks (Stanley Cup Conference Quarterfinal)
In addition, the Rangers (1939), Red Wings (1945, 2011), Islanders (1975), and Blackhawks (2011) are the only other teams to force a game seven after trailing 3-0 in the series. Needless to say, the Canadiens have a steep hill to climb against the Lightning.
How Sweep It Is
The Lightning are looking to become the 21st team, and first in 23 years, to win the Stanley Cup by sweeping the series. The last team to do it was the 1998 Red Wings who took care of the Washington Capitals in four straight. This followed their four-game sweep of the Flyers a year prior. In fact, the Red Wings back-to-back sweeps ended a four-year stretch where every Stanley Cup winner (Devils (1995), Avalanche (1996), Red Wings (1997,1998) won in a sweep. The Penguins’ sweep of the Blackhawks in 1992 matched the 1940s with most Stanley Cup Final sweeps in a single decade.
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The Toronto Maple Leafs Have Set A Record
Although the Maple Leafs didn’t win a playoff series for the 17th consecutive season, they did earn a spot in the NHL record books, albeit a not-so-glamorous one. Over the weekend, the Maple Leafs’ franchise passed the New York Rangers for the longest Stanley Cup drought in NHL history at 19,786 days… and counting. Toronto last hoisted the Stanley Cup 48 seasons ago in 1967 when they defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Only two other franchises have active streaks longer than 40 seasons… the Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets.