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A look at the 0-3 series comebacks in NHL history

by Mark Madden / Pittsburgh Penguins

In NHL history, 190 teams have trailed in a playoff series by three games to none. Four of those teams rallied to win the series.

To quote Jim Carrey: "So you're telling me there's a chance."

Since that's what the Penguins face, here's how those four comebacks transpired:

1942 - Toronto beats Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final.

This marked the first time a team had come back from a three-game deficit, and remains the only time it's happened in a Stanley Cup Final.

The Red Wings not only won the series' first three games, but led Game 4 2-0, and then by 3-2 in the third period before the Maple Leafs won 4-3 in OT. The Leafs then turned the tables decisively, winning 9-3, 3-0 and 3-1 to win the Stanley Cup.

Sweeney Schriner led the Leafs (and series) in goals with five, including two in Game 7. Syl Apps (father of future Penguin Syl Jr.) had seven points for Toronto. Apps' post-Game 7 quote: "By jiminy!" Toronto defenseman Bob Goldham credited a hairpin and chicken wishbone he'd carried around for bringing good luck.

The attendance for Game 7 further added to the game's history: 16,218 showed up at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens, a record for a hockey crowd in Canada.

Detroit Coach Jack Adams did not participate in the series' final three games: He was suspended indefinitely for engaging ref Mel Harwood in a fistfight at the end of Game 4. The award for the NHL's best coach was nonetheless named after him.

1975 - The New York Islanders beat the Penguins in a quarterfinal series.

The Islanders turnaround was sparked when Coach Al Arbour benched goaltender Billy Smith after he'd lost the first three games. Smith went on to win four Stanley Cups from 1980-83 as the Islanders No.1 goalie. But Glenn "Chico" Resch went on to win the next four games, allowing just four goals and posting a whopping .969 save percentage.

The series' first six games produced an average of over six goals per. But Game 7 at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena produced just one goal, a backhand tally by Islanders captain Ed Westfall with 5:18 left in regulation.

Westfall's four goals were a series high for the Islanders. Bob "Battleship" Kelly and Lowell MacDonald each netted four times for Pittsburgh. The Apps family was on the wrong end of this comeback, though Syl Jr. posted a goal and two assists. Pierre Larouche had a goal and four assists, and hit the post in Game 7.

Apps and Jean Pronovost drilled first-period shots off Resch's mask. Said Resch, "The two best saves I made were with my head."

The Islanders went on to lose to eventual champion Philadelphia in the semifinals, forcing a Game 7 after again falling behind three games to none.

2010 - Philadelphia beats Boston in a quarterfinal series.

Three-nothing was not a kind margin to the Bruins. Not only did they lead the series, three games to none, they led Game 7 by a 3-0 score.

But the Flyers wouldn't surrender, winning the deciding contest 4-3 on Simon Gagne's third-period goal. Gagne's series-winner came with Boston playing shorthanded due to a too-many-men penalty - a too-familiar bugaboo in Bruins postseason lore.

Gagne also netted in OT to win Game 4 with the Bruins on the verge of completing a series sweep. He missed the first three games with a broken foot.

"[Gagne's] got a gift, and that gift helps us win hockey games," said Flyers Coach Peter Laviolette. "And he's doing it under the toughest of circumstances."

Daniel Briere led the Flyers in goals with five, tying for the series lead with Boston's Milan Lucic. Backup netminder Michael Leighton won the final two games for the Flyers while deputizing for starter Brian Boucher, who got injured in Game 5.

The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final before losing to Chicago in seven games.

2014 - Los Angeles beats San Jose in a first-round series.

San Jose humiliated the Kings at series' start, beating them 6-3 and 7-2 before eking out a 4-3 OT victory in Game 3. But the Kings fairly cruised in the remaining games, never winning by less than three and taking Game 7 by a 5-1 count.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick was the difference-maker, allowing two goals over the final three contests. Center Anze Kopitar exploded for four goals and six assists on the series, while playoff reliable Justin Williams also scored four times.

"Fortunately, for us, we had our game going in time that it wasn't too late," Williams said. "Four in row. We'll make a note not to do that again."

Said San Jose's Logan Couture, "Every year you lose is pretty low, but this one is a type of series that will rip your heart out. It hurts. It's going to be a long summer thinking about this one and what we let slip away."

The Kings went on to win the next two series in seven games before beating the New York Rangers in five games to win the Stanley Cup Final.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).

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