Photo: Jackets Cannon
The Tampa Bay Lightning, who tied the NHL record with 62 wins in the regular season, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won two of the past three Stanley Cups, were among favorites to advance far in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but through two games of their respective first-round series, both teams have fallen into 0-2 holes. Teams have gone up 2-0 in a best of seven series 401 times and have come back to win the series 51 times (12.7% of the time), according to HockeyReference.com.
The Lightning looked unbeatable when they roared to a 3-0 first-period lead in Game 1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, only to see the Blue Jackets ride a three-goal third period to take the first contest. It was the Lightning’s first loss when leading by at least three goals since a 5-3 road loss to the Washington Capitals on December 18, 2015.
Two nights later, it was the Blue Jackets who stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the second period, but unlike the Lightning, Columbus never looked back. Defenseman Mikhail Sergachev cut the lead to two goals five minutes into the third, but the Blue Jackets added two more goals to blow out the Presidents’ Trophy winners by a 5-1 final. They now head back to Columbus with a 2-0 series lead. Hmmm… sounds familiar.
On Long Island, the Penguins never held a lead in Wednesday’s Game 1, though the match with New York featuring three ties. The Islanders won 4-3 in overtime on a goal by forward Josh Bailey.
During Friday’s Game 2, the Penguins opened the scoring but could not hold the lead. The Islanders responded with three unanswered goals, starting with forward Anthony Beauvillier’s goal with 6:35 remaining in the second to tie the game. Forward Jordan Eberle and Bailey added third-period goals to lead the Islanders to a 3-1 win and a 2-0 series lead.
The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs are already full of surprises. Should these two series continue their current trajectories, it will set up a very interesting path to the Cup for the Capitals in their quest for back-to-back Stanley Cup wins. Before they can think about that, the Capitals will need to win three of the next six games against the Carolina Hurricanes in their first-round series.
By Harrison Brown