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Playoffs on pace for record number of OT games

Friday, 05.06.2011 / 10:13 AM / Inside the Numbers

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Playoffs on pace for record number of OT games
This year's playoff games have been so close, it's a surprise when the games don't go to overtime. The games have kept fans up late, but it's been worth it.
If you're a hockey fan, you've discovered this spring that sleep is overrated.

After all, you're staying up late every night for the latest installment of the new hit show "Stanley Cup Playoff Overtime Hockey." Thursday, when there only was one game scheduled, was just the second time in the last 17 nights that at least one game didn't go past regulation.

With two rounds yet to play, we've already seen 20 overtime games through 63 games, a pace that would threaten the record of 28, set in 1993. The 20 overtime games in the first four weeks of the playoffs already are more than the 18 played all last year -- in fact, they are more than any full playoff year since 22 of 89 games went past regulation in 2003.

Unlike the last three years, when home teams did well in overtime, road clubs have had the better of play this year. Of the 20 overtime games so far, 13 have been won by the visiting team -- the most since road clubs won 13 of 21 in 1999. Home teams went 29-21 in overtime during the past three years, including 10-8 last season -- although the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup with an overtime victory in Game 6 in Philadelphia. The last year road teams had the better of the results was 2007, when the visitors won 12 of the 17 games that went to overtime.


In all, since the 1990 postseason, road teams have won 197 of the 383 games that have gone into overtime.

Hats off to Seto -- San Jose's Devin Setoguchi joined a select group of players when he completed his hat trick by scoring in overtime in the Sharks' 4-3 win at Detroit in Game 3 of their conference semifinal series. Not only did Setoguchi record the first three-goal game of this year's playoffs, but he became just the 15th player in NHL history -- and the first Shark -- to finish a hat trick by scoring in overtime. He joins Washington's Nicklas Backstrom (2010) and Anaheim's Joffrey Lupul (2006) as the only players to do so since 1996.

Setoguchi's overtime goal gave the Sharks a 5-0 record in overtime in this year's playoffs, the most overtime wins by any team since Carolina had seven in 2002. With all their success, however, San Jose remains only halfway to the record -- Montreal won 10 overtime games en route to winning the Stanley Cup in 1993.

Setoguchi's hat trick/overtime parlay came one night after another first -- the first overtime power-play goal of this year's playoffs. Ryan Kesler's winner for Vancouver was the first in overtime while playing with an extra man since Boston's Miroslav Satan beat Buffalo last April 21 -- the third and final overtime power-play goal last spring.

Kid stuff -- It's been a good year for rookies scoring in overtime. Nashville's Matt Halischuk became the fourth first-year player to score in overtime this spring when he beat Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, following Benn Ferriero (San Jose), Ben Smith (Chicago) and Tyler Ennis (Buffalo). It's the largest number of rookies to score in overtime since five did it in 1968 -- the first year of expansion.

Scoring when it matters -- San Jose defenseman Niclas Wallin finally figured out how to score a regulation goal in the playoffs when he beat Detroit's Jimmy Howard in the third period of Game 2. It was just the fourth playoff goal of the 10-year veteran's career -- but he's made them all count. All four have been game-winners, with the first three coming in overtime (two in 2002, the other in 2006, all with Carolina). He matched a mark held by Gus Bodnar, whose first four career playoff goals were winners, though only one of Bodnar's came in overtime.

On a roll -- Maybe goaltenders really do get better with age.

At 41, Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson not only looks younger than his years (except for the gray in his playoff beard), but he's playing at a level that belies his status as one of the NHL's senior citizens.

Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning will take a seven-game winning streak into the Eastern Conference Finals against either Philadelphia or Boston. It's an impressive streak for both, but especially for Roloson, who now has a pair of seven-game winning streaks in Stanley Cup competition during his career -- ironic because he's never won that many in a row during the regular season. Roloson also is the oldest goaltender to get his team this far in the playoffs since 42-year-old Dominik Hasek with Detroit in 2007.

Roloson leads playoff goalies in wins (eight), goals-against average (2.01), and save percentage (.941) despite facing more shots than any other goaltender thus far -- 389 in 11 games, an average of 35.4. The Lightning have won eight of those 11 games despite allowing 96 more shots more than they've taken, an average of more than eight per game. Amazingly, the Lightning were outshot in each of their first 10 playoff games (they won seven) before outshooting Washington 37-36 in Wednesday's clincher -- yet they've outscored their opposition by 14 goals. Of course, Roloson has been getting plenty of help -- his teammates have blocked a League-high 233 shots in 11 games, including 88 in the four-game sweep of Washington.

With Roloson in goal, the Lightning are the only team in this year's playoffs that has not allowed more than three goals in any game; the other 15 teams in the postseason have surrendered four or more at least once.

Tim Terrific -- If Boston finishes its conference semifinal against Philadelphia (the Bruins lead the Flyers 3-0 with Game 4 Friday), get ready for what figures to be a spectacular goaltending duel in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only was Boston's Tim Thomas the regular-season leader in GAA (2.01) and save percentage (an NHL-record .938), but he's nearly matched that performance through 10 playoff games (2.13, .935).

More incredible is that Thomas stopped the last 46 shots he faced in Boston's 3-2 overtime win in Game 2 at Philadelphia, then the first 22 he saw in Game 3, giving him 68 consecutive saves between goals. His 52 saves in Game 2 against the Flyers are the most of any goaltender in a playoff game this season.
Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure