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Still hope for Golden Knights? Other teams have overcome 3-1 deficits

No hockey team has ever won Game 4 of a Stanley Cup Final to go up three-games-to-one and not won the series. That’s obviously not good news for the Golden Knights, who are on the wrong end of that statistic after losing Game 4 to the Washington Capitals 6-2 on Monday.

But the Knights know a thing or two about being long shots. They were 500-1 underdogs at one point to win the Cup, and made it all the way here, so nothing is impossible.

Losing a 3-1 lead isn’t as uncommon as one might think. Among the three major sports that play in series, it has happened 52 times since 1925, or about once every other year. Here are a few of the more famous times it happened.


Luckily for the Golden Knights, the most common instance of overcoming a 3-1 lead happens in hockey, a whopping 28 times. Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, the Capitals are the most common to team to lose such a lead, dropping it five times. No other team has more than three.

Oh, and the Capitals have a 7-5 record in Game 5s when they are up 3-1.

2015 Eastern Conference second round — The Capitals split the first two games at Madison Square Garden before winning Games 3 and 4 at home. Sound familiar? The Rangers won Game 5 in overtime on home ice, squeaked past the Caps in Game 6 in D.C., then won in overtime in Game 7.

2014 Western Conference first round — The Sharks dominated the first three games, outscoring the Kings 17-8 in taking a 3-0 lead. Then it went bad in a hurry. The Kings flipped the script and outscored San Jose 18-5 in hockey’s third-ever 3-0 comeback and gave us the sad Joe Thornton gif.


1942 Stanley Cup Final — The only time a team has blown a 3-1 lead in the Final, it blew a 3-0 lead. The Red Wings grabbed the first three of the series and certainly wished it was a best-of-five. The Maple Leafs stormed back and potted nine goals in Game 5 before winning 3-1 at home to claim the Cup.


This one of course includes the series that spawned a million memes. Just remember to not let anything distract you from the fact that the 73-win Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals with the unanimous league MVP.

2016 NBA Finals — Golden State won the first two at home before the Cavaliers nabbed Game 3. The Warriors won two nights later to put the Cavs on the brink, but Cleveland won the final three games to overcome a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals for the first time in history.

2016 Western Conference Finals — Just round earlier, it was the Warriors who were on the brink. Oklahoma City went up 3-1 in the series, but the Warriors came back to crush the Thunder’s collective soul, then added insult to injury by signing Kevin Durant in the offseason.


It broke the Curse of the Bambino, inspired numerous documentaries and even got a Jimmy Fallon movie. No series comeback is more famous than the Red Sox coming back from down 3-0 to topple the rival Yankees.

2004 American League Championship Series — Things looked bleak for the Red Sox after dropping the first three games, but back-to-back walk-off hits by David Ortiz sent the Sox back to the Bronx with all the momentum, and they capped it with a Game 7 blowout and a World Series sweep.

2016 World Series — Maybe it was karma coming back to Cleveland for that summer’s 3-1 jokes, but the Indians went up 3-1 before the Cubs came back to force a Game 7. The Cubs blew the lead in the ninth, but went on to win in 10 for their first title since 1908.

1925 World Series — The first time a major North American sports team blew a 3-1 lead, the Washington Senators won three of the first four against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who won the final three games by three or fewer runs each game.

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Justin Emerson at jemerson@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.

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