The Rangers, Devils and Hurricanes will be making their first appearance in a Game 7 since capturing the Stanley Cup Final in 1994, 2003 and 2006, respectively. The Capitals are hosting a first-round Game 7 for the second consecutive year, having dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2008.
Since the NHL introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939, a total of 123 playoff series have gone to seven games and the home team has won 78 (63%).
Of the 123 series in League playoff history that have gone to seven games, 30 have been decided in overtime. In the last such contest, the Capitals dropped a 3-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers on a power-play goal by Joffrey Lupul at 6:06 to decide the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal on April 22, 2008. Home and road teams have split the games 15-15, although road clubs are 11-4 since 1990.
The only other time the Capitals overcame a 3-1 deficit in games and advanced to the next series was 1988, when Dale Hunter's overtime goal gave Washington a 5-4 victory over Philadelphia in Game 7 of the Patrick Division Semifinal. A total of 20 clubs in NHL history have notched a similar accomplishment, most recently the Montreal Canadiens against the Boston Bruins in a 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.
Devils left wing Patrik Elias and Rangers center Chris Drury have tallied two game-winning goals each in a Game 7, tied with San Jose Sharks right wing Claude Lemieux for the most among active players. Elias scored with 2:32 remaining in a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia in the 2000 Eastern Conference Final and in a 5-1 victory against Toronto in the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Drury's goals helped the Colorado Avalanche eliminate the Los Angeles Kings in both 2001 and 2002.
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is expected to make his ninth career Game 7 start, second behind Patrick Roy (13) on the all-time list. Curtis Joseph also has nine career Game 7 appearances, but two came in relief (seven starts).
Hurricanes LW Ray Whitney is one of the 30 players in NHL history who have scored in overtime of a Game 7. On May 19, 1995, Whitney's goal at 1:54 of the second extra period gave the San Jose Sharks a 5-4 victory at Calgary in the Western Conference Quarterfinal.