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Press Release

First round of Stanley Cup Playoffs was unprecedented, unpredictable

Four wild cards advance, all division leaders eliminated, three series go to Game 7

by NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

An unprecedented, unpredictable and unforgettable First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs was book-ended by a pair of historic sweeps and a trio of dramatic Game 7s - including two that featured a multi-goal comeback (an NHL first within a postseason). A few highlights:

* The Sharks, Bruins and Hurricanes each won a Game 7, marking the 14th time in NHL history - and first time since 2014 (3) - that the opening round featured at least three winner-take-all showdowns.

* San Jose's three-goal, third-period comeback in its series-clinching win was the second of its kind. Carolina followed suit one night later with a clinching multi-goal comeback victory of their own, marking the first postseason in NHL history to feature multiple Game 7 wins by teams that trailed by two or more goals.

* The last team to clinch a playoff spot was the first through to the Second Round as Columbus became the first team in NHL history to sweep a best-of-seven series in the opening round against the team with the best regular-season record.

* Less than 30 minutes after the Blue Jackets won their first-ever playoff series, the Islanders advanced with their first sweep in 36 years.

* All four Wild Card teams advanced for the first time ever, marking the first postseason in NHL history in which all division winners were eliminated in the opening round. It also marked the first time ever that the top team from each conference were knocked out in round one.

* Series victories by the Avalanche, Stars, Blues, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes marked the fourth time in the conference era (since 1974-75) that at least five lower seeds advanced past the opening round (also 1993: 6; 1999: 5; and 2013: 5).

* Even with five lower seeds advancing, three of the top six teams from the regular season remain in contention for hockey's ultimate prize. The Bruins (No. 3) are now the top-ranked team, ahead of the Islanders (No. 5) and Sharks (No. 6).

* Momentum from strong regular-season finishes carried into the playoffs, with five remaining clubs ranking among the top 10 in terms of points since Jan. 1: St. Louis (No. 1), Carolina (No. 3), Boston (No. 4), NY Islanders (No. 5) and San Jose (No. 8).

* Overall, the eight-team collective that advanced (.638 points percentage since Jan. 1) posted a superior record in 2019 compared to the eight-team group that was eliminated in the First Round (.608 points percentage since Jan. 1).

* The comeback trend from the 2018-19 regular season continued into the First Round, with nearly half of all games won by a team that trailed (43%; 20 of 46 GP) and five teams overcoming a series deficit to advance (San Jose, Boston, Dallas, Colorado and Carolina).

* Though Columbus and St. Louis never trailed in their respective series, they did post memorable comeback victories - the Blue Jackets trailed 3-0 in the first period of Game 1 before winning, while the Blues erased a 2-0 deficit in the third period of Game 5.

* For the 12th consecutive year, at least four of the opening-round series required six or more games (5 of 8). Overall, 70% of all series have extended to six or seven games since the division-focused format was introduced in 2014 (58 of 83).

* Overall, 31% of series have required a Game 7 since 2014 (26 of 83 series). Nearly half of all series played after the opening round have gone the distance under the current playoff format (43%, 15 of 35 series).

* Ten of 46 games required overtime (22%), matching the total from the entire 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs (10 of 84 GP; 12%).



Washington's defeat guarantees a new Stanley Cup champion for the 19th time in the past 20 seasons - and removes 19 Cup-winning players from the 2019 postseason. Only 24 players on active rosters for the eight remaining clubs have won a Stanley Cup.

* Second Round teams have a combined five Stanley Cups in the last 35 years (since 1984) and 14 Cups overall - with only 11 of those coming in the NHL's expansion era, as Boston won three of its six prior to 1967-68.

* Second Round teams account for only 27% of playoff series wins over the past 20 postseasons, with the eight remaining clubs winning 80 of 293 series since 1999. 

* Only two remaining clubs finished among the top three in their conference (Boston and San Jose). A team ranking outside the top three in its conference has won the Stanley Cup 10 times in 43 seasons since conferences were introduced in 1974-75. Four of those instances have come in the past decade, including two since 2013-14 (2014 Kings and 2015 Blackhawks).

* The extended list of players still chasing their first Cup in 2019 includes four who have skated 1,000 career regular-season games: San Jose's Joe Thornton (1,566 GP) and Brent Burns (1,043 GP); St. Louis' Jay Bouwmeester (1,184 GP); and Dallas' Jason Spezza (1,065 GP).



A look at some of the top performers for each winning team in the First Round:

* The Blue Jackets featured 12 different goal-scorers and 15 different point-getters, with in-season acquisition Matt Duchene (3-4-7) leading the team in goals, assists (tied) and points. Sergei Bobrovsky allowed only two goals over a stretch of 170:54 between Tampa Bay's third goal in Game 1 and first goal in Game 4, finishing the series with a 2.01 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

* Islanders forward Jordan Eberle became the second player in franchise history to score a goal in each of the team's first four games of a playoff year, leading the team with 4-2-6 in the opening round. Robin Lehner (1.47 GAA and .956 SV%) allowed one goal in each of Games 2, 3 and 4 en route to becoming the 13th goaltender in NHL history to win each of his first four postseason starts.

* Stars defenseman John Klingberg shared the team lead with six points - tying the forward trio of Alexander Radulov (4-2-6), Tyler Seguin (2-4-6) and Jamie Benn (1-5-6) - and ended the series with the first-ever overtime goal by a Stars/North Stars blueliner in a series-clinching game.

* Jaden Schwartz became the second player in NHL history to score a natural hat trick in a series-clinching game - doing so just two days after winning Game 5 with the second-latest decisive tally in Blues history. Schwartz accounts for each of the last four St. Louis goals.

* Mikko Rantanen (5-4-9) and Nathan MacKinnon (3-5-8) each notched three points in Colorado's series-clinching Game 5 victory to finish as the team's top two scorers in the First Round - including one overtime goal apiece. Both players tallied at least one point in Games 2-5, with Rantanen collecting multiple points in each contest (one such shy of tying an Avalanche/Nordiques franchise playoff record).

* The Bruins trio of Brad Marchand (4-5-9), David Pastrnak (2-4-6) and Patrice Bergeron (3-2-5) combined for 9-11-20 over seven games, including 2-4-6 in Game 6 at Toronto to help Boston force a Game 7.

* Logan Couture (6-2-8) and Tomas Hertl (6-2-8) combined for three goals in a span of 3:33 to spark the Sharks' three-goal comeback in Game 7. Their six goals against Vegas were one shy of the franchise record for most in any series. Erik Karlsson (0-9-9), meanwhile, set a club record for assists in a playoff series.

* Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin led the team with 0-9-9, setting a franchise record for assists in a series. Only two defensemen in NHL history have posted more assists in a single playoff series than Slavin and Karlsson: Paul Coffey (11 in 1985 DF w/ EDM) and Al MacInnis (11 in 1984 DF w/ CGY). Rookie Warren Foegele (4-2-6) led the team in goals, becoming just the fifth rookie in the past 10 postseasons to score four or more goals in the opening round.

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