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Conference Semifinals peak with three Game 7s

Stanley Cup Playoffs' most competitive second round since 1986

Wednesday, 05.13.2009 / 3:41 PM / 2009 Playoffs Conference Semifinals

NHL.com

NEW YORK --  The most competitive second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in more than 20 years will peak with three decisive Game 7s over the next two nights. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals conclude their epic series tonight in Washington; on Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks visit the Detroit Red Wings and the Bruins host the Carolina Hurricanes.

This year marks the first time since 2001 that as many as three Conference Semifinal series extended to seven games and matches the 1986 second-round record of three seven-game and one six-game series.

The 2007 Stanley Cup champion Ducks defeated the 2008 Stanley Cup champion Red Wings 2-1 in Game 6 at Anaheim Tuesday night, forcing their ultimate showdown. The last time the previous two NHL champions met in a playoff series that reached a seventh game was in 1991, when the 1990 victors, the Edmonton Oilers, defeated the 1989 champion Calgary Flames in a 5-4 overtime thriller.

The Boston Bruins, in their 85th NHL season, topped the Hurricanes 4-2 in Raleigh Tuesday night and could capture a series they had trailed 3-1 for the first time in franchise history. Carolina is vying for its fourth consecutive triumph in a seventh and deciding game: The Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final, respectively, and eliminated the New Jersey Devils in the opening round this season by scoring twice in the final 80 seconds of the third period for a stunning, comeback 4-3 triumph.

A total of 125 playoff series have gone to seven games since the NHL introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939. The home team has won 79 (63%).

Playoff GearOf those 125 seven-game series, 30 have been decided in overtime. Carolina LW Ray Whitney and Anaheim C Todd Marchant are among the select group of overtime goal-scorers in a Game 7. Whitney gave the San Jose Sharks a 5-4 victory at Calgary in the Western Conference Quarter-Finals on May 19, 1995, while Marchant lifted the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 win at Dallas in the Western Conference Quarter-Finals on April 29, 1997. Marchant already has an overtime goal in his current series, scoring in triple overtime to win Game 2 at Detroit.

Bruins C Stephane Yelle, already the leader among active NHL players, could appear in his 12th career Game 7.

Quote of the Day

What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.

— Florida Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland on defenseman Aaron Ekblad's performance at development camp