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Penguins, Ducks always ready to work some overtime

by John Kreiser /
Through much of the 1970s and 1980s, there was a popular line on Long Island that said "Overtime is Islander time" due to the Isles' uncanny ability to win in OT. But in the 21st century, overtime success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks.

The Penguins extended the NHL's longest active OT winning streak on Wednesday with a 3-2 victory against Washington. The Pens have now won six in a row in overtime, including both games this season. Five of the six wins have come by the same 3-2 score (the other was 4-3). Pittsburgh hasn't lost a playoff game in overtime since Buffalo's 3-2 win in Game 5 of the 2001 Eastern Semifinals; the Penguins rebounded with OT victories in Games 6 and 7.

Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury improved to a perfect 4-0 by winning Game 3 against Washington. He has more OT wins without a loss than any other active goaltender.

But the Penguins have to share the "OT Team of the Decade" laurels with the Ducks, who've won more overtime playoff games in the 2000s than anyone else.

Anaheim was 1-3 in overtime during the 1990s, but is 14-3 this decade after its 3-2 triple-OT win at Detroit Sunday. The Ducks have split two overtime decisions this year after going 7-0 during its run to the 2003 Final, 2-1 in 2006 and 4-1 in 2007, when they won the Stanley Cup.

As good as Fleury has been for the Penguins, Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere is arguably the greatest overtime goaltender of all time -- even though he's serving as Jonas Hiller's backup this spring. Giguere is 12-1 in his 13 playoff overtime decisions, allowing just one goal on 115 shots in 251 minutes of post-regulation play.

Anaheim's overtime run includes a 4-0 mark in games decided within the first five minutes -- and a 5-1 record in multi-OT games. It also includes a 5-0 mark against the Red Wings.

Anaheim's .778 winning percentage is the best of any team that has played 20 or more overtime games. Raise the baseline to 30 games and the Islanders (29-11, .725) are still tops despite not winning an OT game since Game 7 of the 1993 Patrick Division Finals. The Islanders went 21-5 from 1975-84, the best 10-year OT record ever, and were 11-2 during their four-year run as Stanley Cup champions.

Battle of champions -- Since the 1967 expansion, the Ducks-Wings series marks the third time that the defending Stanley Cup champion and the previous winner have met in the playoffs. The others: 1991, when the 1990 champion Edmonton Oilers played the 1989 winners, the Calgary Flames; and 1971 when the defending champion Boston Bruins faced the 1969 champion Montreal Canadiens. The defending champs have split the two series, with Montreal ousting Boston and Edmonton beating Calgary.

Got 'em where they want 'em -- Not that any team wants to fall behind 2-0 in a series, but it would have been hard to blame Pittsburgh for still being confident after losing its first two games against Washington.

Not only have the Penguins won six of their seven prior playoff series against the Caps, they've overcome 0-2 series deficits to win both previous times that's happened (they've also overcome a 3-1 deficit to win another series).

Sure enough, the Penguins beat Washington 3-2 in overtime in Game 3, giving the Penguins a 5-2 mark against the Caps in Game 3s -- and a 7-3 record in Game 3s after losing the first two games of a series. They also improved to 6-1 in overtime against Washington, by far their best mark against any opponent.

But Game 4 might be tougher for Pittsburgh. Washington has won the fourth game in five of the previous seven series against the Pens.

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