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Penguins one step closer to making history

Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 12:43 AM

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist / Bracket Challenge Blog

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Bracket Challenge Blog
Penguins one step closer to making history

The Pittsburgh Penguins had never won a Game 5 in a series when they trailed 3-0 until they beat Philadelphia 3-2 on Friday night. They're hoping for some more firsts in the next few days.

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 8
SOG: 10 | +/-: 0
Now that they've won two games after losing the first three games of a series, they'll try to pull even on Sunday (noon ET; NBC, CBC). If they do, they'll get a chance to become only the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 3-0.

Including Pittsburgh and Vancouver this year, 170 teams have lost the first three games in a best-of-seven series. The Penguins are just the 15th to get as far as a sixth game -- Vancouver will try to do it against Los Angeles on Saturday.

Even making up a 3-1 deficit isn’t easy. Before this year, 230 of the 254 teams leading 3-1 in a playoff series had advanced. Nashville made it 231 of 255 when it eliminated Detroit on Friday night.

Still, teams trying to overcome 3-1 deficits -- there are four remaining in the opening round -- can take heart from the knowledge that three clubs have overcome that deficit in the past two playoffs – Montreal defeated Washington and Philadelphia bested Boston in 2010, and Tampa Bay came back to beat Pittsburgh in 2011.

Unwanted firsts -- The Detroit Red Wings are heading home after their first opening-round loss in six years following Friday's 2-1 loss to Nashville in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

The Wings failed to make it past the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since a six-game loss to Edmonton in 2006. The five games were the fewest they've played since they were swept by Anaheim in the opening round in 2003.

The Wings' loss raises the possibility that we may have seen the last of Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who turns 42 next Saturday and has said he'll take some time before making a decision about coming back next season. If Lidstrom decides to call it a career, he'll be going out after the poorest playoff performance. The playoff series against Nashville was the 48th in Lidstrom's brilliant career -- but the first in which he failed to score a point.

Power outage -- The Boston Bruins won their opening-round series against Montreal last year despite failing to score a power-play goal, becoming the first team ever to do so. Four games into this spring's first round, they look like a team trying to do it again.

The Bruins have split the first four games of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against Washington -- and they've done so without scoring on 12 power-play chances. They went 0-for-21 against Montreal last spring.

In all, the Bruins have gone 0-for-35 on the power play in the opening round since scoring on their first two opportunities in the sixth and deciding game of their series against Buffalo in 2010.

In contrast, Philadelphia (11) and Pittsburgh (8) have combined for 19 power-play goals in the first five games of their series.

Mikkel Boedker
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 3
SOG: 12 | +/-: 2
Good company -- Phoenix forward Mikkel Boedker became just the eighth player in NHL history to score the overtime winner in back-to-back playoff games when he scored against Chicago in Games 3 and 4 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

The Coyotes can only hope that his career turns out as well as the last two players to get consecutive OT winners in the same series -- Colorado's Joe Sakic is the most recent player to do it, in 2004 against San Jose. Before that, Detroit's Chris Chelios did it in against Vancouver in 1995.

The gold standard for OT in one series is still Mel "Sudden Death" Hill, who scored three overtime winners (including the series winner) for Boston against the New York Rangers in 1939. It's a feat no one has replicated in the more than seven decades since then.

Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season