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Stanley Cup Final

Predators latest expansion team to reach Cup Final

Nashville, playing its 18th season, to face either Penguins or Senators

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

In their 19th NHL season, the Nashville Predators have reached their first Stanley Cup Final, becoming the 20th of the 24 franchises to enter the NHL since the 1967-68 season to do so.

The Predators can become the seventh expansion team to win the Stanley Cup on their first try when the Cup Final starts May 29 at the Pittsburgh Penguins or Ottawa Senators. They would be the first since the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.

Also winning on their first try were the 1996 Colorado Avalanche, the 1995 New Jersey Devils, the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins, the 1980 New York Islanders and the 1974 Philadelphia Flyers.

Here is a list of how Expansion Era teams have done in their first trip to the Cup Final:

 

ANAHEIM DUCKS

Season entered NHL: 1993-94

Season reached first Cup Final: 2002-03

The Ducks were led by forwards Adam Oates, Paul Kariya and Petr Sykora, but it was the goaltending of Jean-Sebastien Giguere that helped Anaheim reach the Final in its 10th season. The Ducks lost in seven games to the Devils, but Giguere was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He led all goalies with a 1.62 goals-against average and .945 save percentage.

 

BUFFALO SABRES

Season entered NHL: 1970-71

Season reached first Cup Final: 1974-75

The "French Connection" line of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert helped the Sabres reach the Final in their fifth season. They played the Flyers in the Final, and after losing the first two games, rallied to win two straight, including the foggy Game 3. But the Sabres lost the next two games and the series in six.

Video: Memories: Sabres and Flyers Play Through Fog

 

CALGARY FLAMES

Season entered NHL: 1972-73 (as Atlanta Flames)

Season reached first Cup Final: 1985-86

In their 14th season, and sixth after moving to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980, the Flames defeated the Winnipeg Jets in the Smythe Division Semifinals, their provincial rival, the Edmonton Oilers, in the division final and then the St. Louis Blues in the Campbell Conference Final. Rookie goalie Mike Vernon backed an offense that was led by forwards Joe Mullen, who led all players with 12 goals, and defenseman Al MacInnis, who was tied for third with 19 points. The Flames won Game 1 of the Final against the Montreal Canadiens but lost the next four.

 

CAROLINA HURRICANES

Season entered NHL: 1979-80 (as Hartford Whalers)

Season reached first Cup Final: 2001-02

The Hurricanes reached the Final in their 23rd season and fifth after relocating from Hartford. But they ran into a Detroit Red Wings team that featured nine future members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, plus center Pavel Datsyuk, who likely will get there. Hurricanes center Ron Francis scored in overtime in Game 1 of the Final, but they lost the next four games.

 

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Season entered NHL: 1979-80 (as Quebec Nordiques)

Season reached first Cup Final: 1995-96

In their first season after moving from Quebec City, the Avalanche reached the Cup Final against the Florida Panthers. The Avalanche won in four games, capped by a goal from defenseman Uwe Krupp in triple overtime of Game 4. Center Joe Sakic scored 18 goals, one short of the NHL record for a playoff year held by Reggie Leach (1976) and Jari Kurri (1985), and won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Video: Joe Sakic captained Avalanche to two Stanley Cup wins

 

DALLAS STARS

Season entered NHL: 1967-68 (as Minnesota North Stars)

Season reached first Cup Final: 1980-81

In their 14th season, the Minnesota North Stars reached the Final against the Islanders. Left wing Steve Payne, who led the playoffs with 17 goals in 19 games, scored five times in the series but the rest of the team scored 11 goals and the North Stars lost in five games. The franchise relocated to Dallas in 1993 and played for the Cup for the first time in Texas in 1999. Forward Brett Hull scored in triple overtime in Game 6 to win the Cup against the Sabres.

 

EDMONTON OILERS

Season entered NHL: 1979-80

Season reached first Cup Final: 1982-83

In their fourth season, the Oilers faced the three-time Cup champion Islanders. Center Wayne Gretzky led all players with 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists) in 16 postseason games, but the Islanders held him to four assists in the Final and the Oilers were swept in four games.

Video: Wayne Gretzky all-time leader in goals, points

 

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Season entered NHL: 1993-94

Season reached first Cup Final: 1995-96

Riding the "Rat Trick" craze, the Panthers faced the Avalanche in the Cup Final in their third season. Goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck led the NHL with a .932 save percentage in 22 games but couldn't prevent the Panthers from losing in four games.

 

LOS ANGELES KINGS

Season entered NHL: 1967-68

Season reached first Cup Final: 1992-93

Five seasons after Gretzky arrived in a trade with the Oilers, the Kings reached the Cup Final for the first time in the franchise's 26th season. Gretzky had a goal and three assists in the Kings' Game 1 win, but they lost the next three games in overtime and the series in five games.

 

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Season entered NHL: 1974-75 (as Kansas City Scouts)

Season reached first Cup Final: 1994-95

They started their existence as the Kansas City Scouts and after a stint as the Colorado Rockies, arrived in New Jersey in 1982. In their 13th season as the Devils, they reached the Cup Final for the first time, against the Red Wings. Goaltender Martin Brodeur allowed seven goals in four games and the Devils swept the series.

Video: Martin Brodeur lifts Devils to 1995 Stanley Cup win

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Season entered NHL: 1972-73 

Season reached first Cup Final: 1979-80

Eight seasons after entering the League, the Islanders reached the Cup Final against the Flyers. Center Bryan Trottier led all scorers in the playoffs with 12 goals and 29 points, but the biggest goal came when Bobby Nystrom scored in overtime in Game 6 to win the Cup.

Video: 1980 Cup Final, Gm 6: Nystrom leads Isles to 1st Cup

 

OTTAWA SENATORS

Season entered NHL: 1992-93

Season reached first Cup Final: 2006-07

Fifteen years after returning to the League, the Senators played the Ducks for the Cup. The Senators fell behind 3-1, with each of the three losses by one goal, and they lost the series in five games. Senators forwards Daniel Alfredsson (14 goals, eight assists), Jason Spezza (seven goals, 15 assists) and Dany Heatley (seven goals, 15 assists) tied for the NHL lead with 22 points each, but they combined for eight points in the Final (five goals, three assists).

 

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Season entered NHL: 1967-68

Season reached first Cup Final: 1973-74

The Flyers, in their seventh season, defeated the Boston Bruins in six games to become the first "Second Six" expansion team to win the Cup. Forward Rick MacLeish scored and Bernie Parent made 30 saves in the Flyers' 1-0 Cup-clinching victory in Game 6.

Video: Memories: Flyers win Stanley Cup to make history

 

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Season entered NHL: 1967-68

Season reached first Cup Final: 1990-91

In their 24th season, the Penguins reached the Cup Final and defeated the North Stars in six games. The Penguins clinched the series with an 8-0 win in Game 6 in which Mario Lemieux had a goal and three assists. Lemieux had 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) in 23 games, second-most all-time in a single postseason to Gretzky, who had 47 points in 18 games in 1985.

Video: Mario Lemieux scored 100 points 10 different times

 

ST. LOUIS BLUES

Season entered NHL: 1967-68

Season reached first Cup Final: 1967-68

The Blues won the all-expansion team West Division in their first season and defeated the North Stars to reach the Cup Final against the Canadiens, but lost in four games.

 

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Season entered NHL: 1991-92

Season reached first Cup Final: 2015-16

The Sharks ended their 24th season with a trip to the Final against the Penguins. They fell behind 3-1 in the series, but won Game 5 in Pittsburgh 4-2, keyed by forward Melker Karlsson's go-ahead goal at 14:47 of the first period. The series ended with a loss in Game 6 at home. Forward Logan Couture led all players with 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists) in 24 games. 

 

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Season entered NHL: 1992-93

Season reached first Cup Final: 2003-04

The Lightning reached the Final in their 12th season and faced the Flames. They were down 3-2 in the series but won Game 6 in Calgary on a goal by forward Martin St. Louis 33 seconds into double overtime. In Game 7 at home, forward Ruslan Fedotenko scored two goals and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin made 16 saves in a 2-1 victory.

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Season entered NHL: 1970-71

Season reached first Cup Final: 1981-82

After losing in the preliminary round the three previous years, the Canucks reached the Final in their 12th season. They faced the two-time defending Cup champion Islanders and lost in four games. The Canucks scored nine goals in the first two games but one goal in the final two.

 

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Season entered NHL: 1974-75

Season reached first Cup Final: 1997-98

Led by forwards Joe Juneau and Adam Oates, the Capitals reached the Final in their 24th season, but were swept in four games by the defending champion Red Wings. The Capitals lost the first three games by one goal each, then lost 4-1 in Game 4. The Capitals scored one goal in three of the four games in the series.

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