NHL: In trying to make history, Edmonton will be battling it

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On Friday night, the Oilers became the first team since 1945 to force a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final after falling behind 3-0. But in order to complete the reverse sweep on Monday, Edmonton will have to overcome some significant history.

First, there’s the small matter of there being only one team in major North American sports history to pull the feat off in a championship setting, the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs. That group overcame a 3-0 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings to with the Stanley Cup Final.

In defeating the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Friday, the Oilers joined the 1945 Red Wings alongside those Maple Leafs as being the only three teams to even force a Game 7 after being down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final.

However, those Red Wings remain a cautionary tale: They dropped the deciding Game 7 (again against the Maple Leafs).

“The job’s not done,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman said. “I think it’s a great story, but you need to finish it.

“Everyone will forget if you don’t finish it. That’s the key, everybody remembers the winners, so it’s great to give (the fans) a moment like that, but I think they’re waiting for a bigger moment.”

It hasn’t happened often. Putting aside the championship setting and extending to the entire playoffs, only four teams have ever come back from down 3-0 to win a playoff series. The most recent example came 10 years ago, when the Los Angeles Kings completed their first-round comeback against the San Jose Sharks in 2014.

Other than that, there are those Maple Leafs in 1945, the 1975 New York Islanders (vs. Pittsburgh), and the Philadelphia Flyers (vs. Boston) in 2010.

That’s it. That’s the list.

“It’s been a hell of a story so far, but at the end of the day, we play to win,” center Leon Draisaitl said Friday night. “This is going to be the hardest game for us. They’re going to come out hard. They’re playing at home. We have to bring our game again.”

In coming back to tie this series, Edmonton has continued a strong trend in these playoffs. It is 7-0 in elimination situations, outscoring opponents by an average of 4.6 goals to 1.7.

But in trying to get to 8-0, the Oilers will have to overcome their own playoff history as well as the NHL’s.

Since winning their last Stanley Cup Final in 1990, the Oilers have bowed out short of the Stanley Cup Final 13 times.

The lone exception was 2006, when the Oilers dropped a 3-1 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes in a similar Game 7 winner-take-all scenario.

So, the pain of not closing the deal is well felt in that city, even for a roster that has entirely turned over since that Hurricanes loss.

Edmonton defenseman Darnell Nurse is one of the longer tenured players on the roster, and he understands what a treasured opportunity this is.

“We’ve had a few cracks at winning playoff runs, but there’s been no satisfaction,” he said. “There’s no satisfaction until we’re all done.

“There’s no momentum from game to game. When that puck drops in Game 7, it’s just one game and you want to make the most of the opportunities. When that puck drops, everything seems to reset.”

–Field Level Media

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