Only three teams in NHL history have overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win a best-of-seven series. The Los Angeles Kings are poised to become the fourth to do so after beating the San Jose Sharks by a score of 4-1 on Monday night at the Staples Center.
In NHL history, there have been 175 teams that have gone down by the 3-0 margin in postseason play, but only three (1.5 percent) of those squads have come all the way back. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the first to accomplish the feat in 1942. The New York Islanders did it in 1975, and the Philadelphia Flyers somehow managed to come all the way back against the Boston Bruins in 2010 en route to a berth in the Stanley Cup Final.
A few other teams have come close to replicating the feat in recent years, with the Chicago Blackhawks coming the closest back in 2011. They were down 3-0 to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs, and they managed to win three games in a row before losing in overtime in Game 7.
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In order to make that kind of a historic comeback, teams need their big players to step up, but for the Kings, it hasn't been the guys like Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar who have loomed the largest (although they both have played well during the last three games). The big contributor to the cause has actually been winger Justin Williams, who has been on an absolute tear as the Kings have won three games in a row.
Over that span, Williams has racked up four goals and an assist in the three games while piling up 14 shots on goal over that span. He was at his absolute best on Monday night in Game 6, scoring the Kings' first and second goals in the game. That second goal came with about eight minutes left, and Williams wasn't done there as he picked up the primary assist on Kopitar's critical insurance goal just a minute and a half later.
Williams was ultimately tossed from the game with about five minutes left thanks to a skirmish he got into with Raffi Torres, but his impact on the game far transcended just that moment of undisciplined play. He was pushing the tempo all over the ice for the Kings throughout the game, and without his stellar goal scoring efforts, it's entirely possible that the Sharks would have ended the series at Staples Center.
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Instead, the Kings are heading back to San Jose for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night. They will surely be brimming with confidence after this one, with their stellar defense playing a large part in the proceedings to back up Williams' quality day at the office. In the third period of the game, the Kings only allowed six shots on goal, and Jonathan Quick thanked them for the light workload by stopping all of them as the team cruised through the second half of the final period to victory.
For now, the Sharks have got to try to stop themselves from focusing too much on the three games in a row that they've lost in the series. It is possible for them to stop the bleeding and win Game 7, but with a rolling Kings team facing them, and players like Williams and Kopitar finding the back of the net with greater frequency, the challenge for the Sharks to avoid becoming the fourth team to blow a 3-0 lead is a huge hill to climb.