Of the four major professional sports in the U.S. (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL), the NHL probably ranks last on the sports fan interest list. But if you are not a hockey fan, and specifically, an NHL fan, you are missing out on one of the most exciting aspects of sports: the Game 7 overtime game… hockey’s version of sudden death.
On May 13, the New York Rangers Derek Stepan scored an overtime goal in Game Seven of the Rangers series against the Washington Capitals. That goal advanced the Rangers into the Eastern Conference Finals.
That Game Seven OT goal was the 14th time since 2000 that an NHL series was decided in the final game of the series on an overtime score. It was also the fifth straight year that at least one NHL playoff series ended with a Game Seven OT goal; in fact, there were two such games in the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 NHL playoffs. With three NHL playoff series remaining to be played this season, could their be a second such game/series this year?
What makes these NHL Game Seven OT games so special is that they happen far more frequently than the other three sports. The NBA has had only two Game Seven series end in overtime since 2000; MLB has had only one seven-game series end in extra innings in Game Seven since 2000. (Of course, the NFL does not have multiple-game series, but there have been 17 playoff games that have ended in overtime this century.)
Here’s a brief look at some other stats from Game Sevens and overtime in the four major professional sports since 2000:
* There have been 66 series that have gone to a seventh game in the NHL since 2000.
* There have been 45 playoff series that have gone to a seventh game in the NBA since 2000. The only two series that ended in overtime of the seventh game since 2000 were in 2002 when the Lakers defeated the Kings in the Western Conference finals and in 2006 when Dallas won game seven in OT in their Western Conference semifinals against San Antonio.
* The only MLB seven-game series to end in extra innings since 2000 was in 2003. The New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 in 11 innings to win the American League Championship Series and advance to the World Series. They lost to the Florida Marlins in six games in the World Series that year. There have been 12 series that went seven games in the MLB post-season since 2000; four happened in the World Series, four happened in the ALCS, and four happened in the NLCS.
* Of the 17 NFL playoff games that have ended in overtime, four were a conference title game (the last was this past season when the Seahawks defeated the Packers), seven were in a divisional playoff contest, and six were in a Wild Card game. None of the Super Bowls since 2000 ended in OT; in fact, no Super Bowl game has ever gone into overtime.
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