Game Sevens in these Playoffs

As we prepare for the last game of the conference finals, we’re going to take a look back at all of the game sevens that have been played during the 2011 postseason.

Both Tampa Bay and Boston will be playing in their second game seven in these playoffs. Both teams needed seven games to escape from the first round, and both teams got to the seventh game in dramatic fashion.

The Boston Bruins dropped their first two games at home against the Montreal Canadiens in round one and it looked like an upset was brewing (or “Bruin?” Sorry.)

Boston won game three in Montreal by a 4-2 score and they needed overtime in game four to even up the series. Another Boston overtime victory game in game five, but they couldn’t close out the Habs in Montreal in game six. That led to game seven Boston where overtime was once against necessary.

The Bruins stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the first, but by the middle of the second period it was all tied up. Boston once again took the lead in the third, but P.K. Subban scored on the power play with less than two minutes remaining to send the game into overtime.

Nathan Horton was the overtime hero for Boston as he scored at 5:43 of the first overtime period to send the Bruins into the second round.

While Boston’s series against Montreal was certainly exhilarating, Tampa Bay’s battle against the Pittsburgh Penguins was even more dramatic. The Lightning dropped three of the first four games against the Penguins and it looked like the series was as good as over.

However, Tampa Bay exploded in game five, scoring eight goals and humiliating the Penguins at home with an 8-2 defeat. Back at home in game six, Tampa Bay used secondary scoring to defeat the Penguins and force a game seven.

The final game of the series was a defensive battle where both goaltenders took turns stealing the spotlight. In the end, the only goal in the game was scored by Tampa Bay’s Sean Bergenheim as the Lightning completed the comeback and moved on to round two.

Speaking of comebacks, the Vancouver Canucks prevented a huge one when they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks. Vancouver had built up a 3-0 lead in their first-round series against Chicago, but they watched it all fall apart as the Blackhawks won three-straight games.

With a monumental collapse looming, the Canucks scored the first goal of the game early, only 2:43 into the first period. That Alexandre Burrows goal stood as the game’s only marker until Jonathan Toews tied the game up with 1:56 left in the game. Game seven was going into overtime.

Burrows was once again the hero, scoring 5:22 into overtime and finally vanquishing the Blackhawks.

While the other three game sevens mentioned in this post were all incredibly close games, the final game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres was anything but. After the Flyers scored four straight goals, Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller was pulled from the net in with just over 18 minutes remaining in the game.

That didn’t help.

The Flyers went on to win the game by a 5-2 score and move on to face the Bruins in round two.

The second round saw only one game seven, as the Detroit Red Wings stormed back from a 3-0 hole to even up their series with the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks scored twice in the first period of game seven and took a two goal lead into the intermission. Henrik Zetterberg scored the only goal in the second to cut the lead to one with one period of hockey remaining. San Jose -regained their two-goal lead on a Patrick Marleau goal that turned out to be the game winner.

Out of the five game sevens played in these playoffs thus far, the home team has won four games. Initially that looks good for the Bruins, but the one road team that was victorious was the Tampa Bay Lightning.

However, the team that has won game six, has won only two game sevens. The other three were losses by the game six winner. Again, Tampa Bay is one of the teams that won both game six and seven in their series (Philadelphia was the other.)

Of course, those statistics won’t really mean all that much tonight. If these playoffs have taught us anything it’s that no lead is safe and anything can happen.