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January 22, 2019
It Ain't Over...
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
The Pittsburgh Penguins arenít scared to rally. The Arctic Birds are 7-4-0 when trailing after two periods, far and away the best mark in the league. Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Detroit, and the NY Rangers are a distant second with three wins when trailing after two.
To put Pittsburghís seven wins in perspective, Colorado and New Jersey led the league last season with eight victories when trailing after two. Itís been quite the role reversal for the Penguins. In 2005-06, the Pens were the only team in the league to not win a game when trailing after two, going 0-41-10.
Obviously, with Kid Crosby and Geno Malkin, the Penguins are never out of a game. But comebacks are all the rage these days in the NHL. And we can thank the lockout.
In the seven years prior to the work stoppage, there were 581 come-from-behind wins for teams trailing after two. That number averaged out to a paltry 2.89 per team each season. Basically, you could turn off the TV after the second period.
In the three years since the lockout, clubs have combined for 429 come-from-behind wins when trailing after two, or an average of 4.77 per team. Thatís quality entertainment right there. Games are never over until the final horn.
In 1997-98, which was the earliest season I could find stats, the entire 26-team NHL witnessed only 56 wins for teams trailing after two periods. So far in 2008-09, there have already been 53 such wins, proving the NHL has indeed come a long way in terms of excitement.
And in 1997-98, not a single squad managed as many as five come-from-behind victories. Since the lockout, there has been an average of 17.3 teams with at least five third-period triumphs.
In fact, from 1997 to 2004, only 32 teams recorded at least five victories in a season when trailing after two. In the first three seasons after the lockout, there were 52 teams to accomplish the feat.
Itís a brave new world.
NHL TEAMS TRAILING AFTER TWO PERIODS Year Wins Most Wins Teams w/5+ Wins 1997-98* 56 4 0 1998-99^ 78 7 6 1999-00< 87 8 4 2000-01 82 7 4 2001-02 80 6 4 2002-03 101 9 8 2003-04 97 9 6 2005-06 137 12 15 2006-07 155 10 19 2007-08 137 8 18 * 26 teams ^ 27 teams < 28 teams