NHL history of Game 7s in Stanley Cup Final

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins
Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 Stanley Cup Final is headed to Game 7, the first time since 2019 that the NHL championship series will come down to a winner-take-all contest. Although it was more common for teams to battle to Game 7 in the early 2000s, it’s been rare since 2010, with the 2024 series being only the third such instance.

This year’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers will go down in history. Either the Oilers become only the second team in League history to rally from a 3-0 series deficit and win the title, or the Panthers will become the second team to blow a 3-0 series lead and win the final game.

Related: Need to know 7 facts about NHL playoff teams involved in 3-0 series comebacks

No matter what happens on Monday, June 24, Edmonton and Florida will enter the record book as the 18th Stanley Cup Final to go to Game 7. Here’s a look at the previous series that went the distance since the NHL adopted the seven-game format in 1939.

NHL history of Game 7s in Stanley Cup Final

2019 – St. Louis Blues (4) v. Boston Bruins (3)

The St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup at TD Garden on June 12, 2019, defeating the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7. The two teams swapped wins through the first four games, with St. Louis winning Game 5 and Boston taking Game 6.

2011 – Boston Bruins (4) v. Vancouver Canucks (3)

The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks opened up a 2-0 series lead and the Bruins tied it at 2-2, before getting shut out in Game 5. Back in Boston in an elimination game, the Bruins defeated the Canucks 5-2 to set up Game 7 in Vancouver, when Tim Thomas and the Bruins shut out the Canucks 4-0 on June 15, 2011.

2009 – Pittsburgh Penguins (4) v. Detroit Red Wings* (3)

In 2008, the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 at Mellon Arena to win the Stanley Cup. A year later, the two met again in the Cup Final, with Detroit blowing a 2-0 and 3-2 series lead, eventually watching the Penguins celebrate on their home ice after a 2-1 Game 7 victory on June 12, 2009.

2006 – Carolina Hurricanes (4) v. Edmonton Oilers (3)

After the NHL Lockout canceled the 2004-05 season, the Carolina Hurricanes became the first Stanley Cup winner in the salary cap era. As the favorites, the Hurricanes built up 2-0 and 3-1 series leads , only for the Oilers to rally and force Game 7 in Raleigh. Carolina celebrated their only Stanley Cup title on June 19, 2006, thanks to a 3-1 win.

2004 – Tampa Bay Lightning (4) v. Calgary Flames (3)

The Tampa Bay Lightning captured their first Stanley Cup championship, defeating the Calgary Flames 2-1 in Game 7 on June 7, 2004. The Flames blew three leads in the series; but it looked like they scored the potential Cup-clinching goal in Game 6, but it was ruled no-goal. In the end, the Lighting prevailed despite never leading in the series.

2003 – New Jersey Devils (4) v. Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (3)

The 2003 Stanley Cup Final was the last time the Conn Smythe Trophy winner was awarded to a losing team member, as netminder Jean-Sebastian Giguere (Mighty Ducks of Anaheim) took home playoff MVP honors. His counterpart in the series, Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, won three out of the four games via shutout, including Game 7, by a score of 3-0, with the New Jersey Devils winning their third title on June 9, 2003.

2001 – Colorado Avalanche (4) v. New Jersey Devils* (3)

Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque ended his historic 22-year career with a Stanley Cup title thanks to the Colorado Avalanche defeating the reigning champion, Devils, in a pivotal Game 7 on June 9, 2001. New Jersey went up 3-2 before a shutout loss in Game 6 forced a pivotal winner-take-all contest, which the Avalanche won 3-1.

1994 – New York Rangers (4) v. Vancouver Canucks (3)

In a moment 54 years in the making, the New York Rangers defeated the Canucks 3-2 in Game 7 on June 14, 1994, to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940. After dropping Game 1, the Rangers reeled off three straight wins before losing Games 5 and 6, setting up one of hockey’s most talked about championship games at Madison Square Garden.

1987 – Edmonton Oilers (4) v. Philadelphia Flyers (3)

The Oilers were hunting for their third title in four seasons when they ran into red-hot rookie goalie Ron Hextall in the Stanley Cup Final. Despite being down 2-0 and 3-1, the Philadelphia Flyers rallied with their young netminder, eventually losing 3-1 in Game 7 on May 31, 1987. Hextall took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP for his efforts.

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1971 – Montreal Canadiens (4) v. Chicago Blackhawks (3)

The 1971 Stanley Cup Final was the last time two Original Six franchises went the distance in the title series. Thanks to lineups that featured 13 future Hall of Famers, the Chicago Blackhawks secured a 2-0 and 3-2 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens, only to lose Game 6 and then 3-2 on home ice in Game 7 on May 18, 1971.

1965 – Montreal Canadiens (4) v. Chicago Blackhawks (3)

The Canadiens and Blackhawks went the distance in the third to last Original Six-era Stanley Cup Final in 1965. Montreal opened up with a 2-0 series lead before Chicago tied it and lost Game 5 in a blowout 6-0. The Canadiens dropped Game 6 but captured another championship thanks to a 4-0 shutout win in Game 7 on May 1, 1965.

1964 – Toronto Maple Leafs* (4) v. Detroit Red Wings (3)

By 1964, the Toronto Maple Leafs were the two-time defending champions, having previously defeated the Blackhawks (1962) and Red Wings (1963). In the rematch, the two teams split the first four games, with Detroit going up 3-2 before an overtime win by the Maple Leafs saved their season for one more game, which they won 4-0 on April 25, 1964.

1955 – Detroit Red Wings* (4) v. Montreal Canadiens (3)

Before winning it all in 1997, the last time the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup was 1955, when they defeated the Canadiens in Game 7 on April 14, 1955. Since the teams split the regular season series 7-7, seeing the Final go seven games was unsurprising, with the teams splitting the first four games 2-2. Detroit picked up a win in Game 5, and Montreal evened the series again in Game 6 before the Red Wings won 3-1 for their second straight title.

1954 – Detroit Red Wings (4) v. Montreal Canadiens* (3)

Unlike their 1955 rematch, the Red Wings won Game 1 of the 1954 Stanley Cup Final and built a 3-1 series lead. Unable to win the title in Games 5 or 6, Detroit dethroned the reigning champion Canadiens with a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 7 on April 16, 1954.

1950 – Detroit Red Wings (4) v. New York Rangers (3)

The Red Wings were the top team in the NHL at the beginning of the 1950s, winning the Stanley Cup in 1950, 1952, 1954, and 1955. Their first win came at the expense of the Rangers, who broke a 2-2 tie with a Game 5 overtime win. However, Detroit rebounded in Game 6 and won a thrilling double-overtime Game 7 (4-3) on April 23, 1950.

1945 – Toronto Maple Leafs (4) v. Detroit Red Wings (3)

As you’ll read, the Maple Leafs and Red Wings have one of the game’s most iconic rivalries, especially in the Stanley Cup Final. In 1945, Toronto shut out the Red Wings in the first three games, 1-0, 2-0, and 1-0, pushing Detroit to the brink. However, they rallied with victories in the next three games, 5-3, 2-0, and 1-0 (OT), to force Game 7. On the road, the Maple Leafs avoided a reverse sweep, winning the Stanley Cup on April 22, 1945, thanks to a 2-1 victory.

1942 – Toronto Maple Leafs (4) v. Detroit Red Wings (3)

In 1942, the Maple Leafs became the first professional team in North American sports history to rally from a 3-0 series deficit and win a championship. The Red Wings began the Stanley Cup Final with three straight wins, 3-2, 4-2, and 5-2. In Game 4, Detroit blew a 3-2 lead in the third period to give Toronto life, and the Maple Leafs won 4-3 for their first win. Unfortunately for the Red Wings, the Maple Leafs wouldn’t lose again, winning Game 5 (9-3) and Game 6 (3-0) before capturing the Stanley Cup on April 18, 1942, with a 3-1 victory in Game 7 to complete the comeback.

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