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Big-League Beatdowns: What's the worst loss each NHL team has suffered?

As if Colorado's second period onslaught wasn't enough, the nine goals the Avalanche scored were the most the Predators have allowed in franchise history. But Nashville's not alone in suffering a big defeat. Here's the worst loss for each NHL franchise.

For the past four seasons, Lawrence Feloney has enjoyed life as the Nashville Predators’ video coach. He’s been an integral part of the coaching staff, an unsung hero whose work in the film room has helped turn the Predators into a consistent contender in the Western Conference, who has put in plenty of hours running sessions to help Nashville’s best work out the small details in their game.

For at least one day, however, Lawrence Feloney might want to consider changing his job title from video coach to the Predators’ demolition expert. Following Thursday night’s shellacking at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche, it should be Feloney’s duty to find any and all footage of the 9-4 defeat, gather it into one tidy package and have himself a bonfire.

As we suggest Feloney undertake such a task, we should also assume that he’ll follow through, so for those unaware of the events of Nashville’s game-that-shall-not-be-seen, we offer this brief recap. Through the first 25 minutes of the Predators’ meeting with the Avalanche, all was going well. A pair of early second-period goals had put Nashville ahed 3-2 and it looked as though a slip-sliding Colorado club was on its way to its sixth consecutive loss. But then came the worst run of play in Predators franchise history.

Thirty-one seconds after Matt Duchene gave Nashville the lead, JoonasDonskoi scored to draw the Avalanche level. Exactly 20 seconds later, Ryan Graves’ goal put Colorado ahead. Then came Andre Burakovsky’s marker little more than one minute later, followed by Matt Nieto’s tally 50 seconds after that, a Matt Calvert goal some two minutes later and, to cap off the run, Donskoi’s second of the night exactly eight minutes after he scored his first. All told, across an eight-minute span in the second frame, the Predators surrendered six goals.

Bad as the six-goal run was, too, it’s not for that reason alone that the Predators will want to have short memories. As it so happens, the nine goals against also set the franchise record for most in an outing. So, surely one understands why Feloney has some important and potentially explosive business to which he must attend Friday.

But for those Predators fans, who are surely licking some wounds today, we have a gift, a message, proof that you’re not alone. Below, you’ll find the worst regular season outing each NHL franchise has experienced, with the defeats ranked by most goals against and ties going to the contests that featured the greatest margin of defeat:

Anaheim Ducks – 9-2 vs. Dallas Stars, Feb. 1, 1995
See! Already it gets worse! At least the Predators scored four goals. The then-sophomore Ducks franchise mustered just two tallies and those both came with the game well out of hand. Trent Klatt opened the game with two quick goals and Mike Modano notched a shorthanded and power play marker for Dallas in the thrashing of Anaheim. Ducks goaltender Mikhail Shtalenkov got the hook after allowing four goals on 28 shots through less than half an outing.

Arizona Coyotes – 15-2 vs. Minnesota North Stars, Nov. 11, 1981
Good thing the franchise, then the Winnipeg Jets, was on the road and not at home. Imagine paying good money to see this as a Jets fan. Of course, it was a different era and games like this, while not the norm, weren’t exactly uncommon, either. At one point, the North Stars led 4-2, but that was before they scored 11 unanswered goals. (Note: The Coyotes’ worst defeat since moving to the desert was a 9-2 loss against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 11, 2006.)

Boston Bruins – 13-3 vs. Montreal Canadiens, Nov. 21, 1943
The score in this one was 9-0 before the Bruins even got on the board. It’s times like those that surely even professional athletes wonder whether they can just switch to a running clock. Every single Canadiensforward, aside from Leo Lamoureux, scored a goal.

Buffalo Sabres – 11-2 vs. Montreal Canadiens, Nov. 7, 1970
It’s not quite as bad as the Jets-North Stars contest above, but there was a point in this outing that the Sabres and Canadiens were level. Gilbert Perreault scored minutes into the second, his second tally of the night, to put Buffalo into a 2-2 tie with Montreal, but the Canadiens proceeded to score nine unanswered goals. Sabres goaltender Joe Daley played the entire game. Not one he remembers fondly, to be sure.

Calgary Flames – 12-4 vs. Detroit Red Wings, Oct. 29, 1981
It took all of seven and a half minutes for the Red Wings to take a 5-0 lead, and the Flames should have known right then and there that it wasn’t their night. Mike Foligno and John Ogrodnick both registered hat tricks for Detroit. Worth noting is that the nature of this ranking – that we’re using goals against first and goal differential second – means this outing tops the list. Realistically, though, the worst defeat in franchise history came more than a decade later when the Flames suffered an 11-0 defeat on March 1, 1992, at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks.

Carolina Hurricanes – 12-3 vs. Quebec Nordiques, Feb. 1, 1983
Defunct team-on-defunct team violence. This came back during the Hartford Whalers era, and the worst part the loss isn’t even the score. It’s that whatever vow those Whalers made to themselves to not lose like that again fell by the wayside just three weeks later when Hartford got shelled 11-3 by the New York Rangers. Yikes.

Chicago Blackhawks – 12-0 vs. Detroit Red Wings, Dec. 4, 1987
Within 37 seconds of the opening faceoff, the Red Wings had scored twice. By the two-minute mark, it was a 3-0 game. And it didn’t get any better from there. What’s somewhat incredible about this outing is that only two of the dozen goals were scored on the power play. It’s also worth noting that the third period featured a run of three goals against in 45 seconds.

Colorado Avalanche – 12-2 vs. Washington Capitals, Feb. 6, 1990
What’s the worst birthday you’ve ever had? Did no one show up to your party? Did the clown make you cry? Or did your coach leave you in a professional hockey game long enough for you to allow 12 goals against? If it’s that last one, you’re one-time Quebec Nordiques goaltender Scott Gordon, who turned 27 the same night he got a nice, even tan from the goal light.

Columbus Blue Jackets – 10-2 vs. San Jose Sharks, March 30, 2002
Not uncommon for relatively new franchises to go through some growing pains, and this was about as painful as it got in Columbus. Vincent Damphousse, Patrick Marleau and TeemuSelanne all had multi-goal games for the Sharks and all but four San Jose skaters registered a point. The goaltenders for the Blue Jackets that night were Ron Tugnutt and Marc Denis.

Dallas Stars – 12-8 vs. Edmonton Oilers, Jan. 4, 1984
This one was actually close as far as games in which one team allows a dozen goals against go. Midway through the second period, the score was 7-6 for the Oilers and minutes into the third period, the North Stars scored a couple to come within two of Edmonton, who led 10-8 before goals by Paul Coffey and Randy Gregg put the final nails in the coffin.

Detroit Red Wings – 13-0 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, Jan. 2, 1971
What more is there to say? Seven Maple Leafs scored three or more points, half the roster had multi-point nights and the only skaters without a point were Jim McKenny and Brian Glennie. There is absolutely nothing notable about this outing for the Red Wings, maybe aside from the fact Jim Rutherford – yes, that Jim Rutherford – came into the game in relief of Don McLeod, who allowed 10 goals on 32 shots.

Edmonton Oilers – 11-0 vs. Hartford Whalers, Feb. 12, 1984
We so often associate the dynasty-era Oilers with dominant performances that it’s jarring to think of the 1984 club getting bossed around the ice by the same Whalers who lost a pair of 11-goal-against games one season earlier. Edmonton got the last laugh, of course. The Oilers won the Stanley Cup, their first of four in five seasons, to cap off the 1983-84 season.

Florida Panthers – 12-2 vs. Washington Capitals, Jan. 11, 2003
Jaromir Jagr skated 14:05 for the Capitals in this game. In that time, he scored three goals and seven points. That is absurd.

Los Angeles Kings – 11-2 vs. Boston Bruins, Nov. 14, 1971
The Kings have the dubious distinction of having five separate 11-goal-against games from which to choose, but the winner by a hair is the blowout by the Bruins during the 1971-72 campaign. None other than Bobby Orr led Boston’s dominant performance. He scored three goals and six points.

Minnesota Wild – 8-1 vs. Montreal Canadiens, March 20, 2011
Thank all that is holy for penalty shots, otherwise this would have been an 8-0 defeat. MikkoKoivu snapped Alex Auld’s shutout with roughly eight minutes left in the contest, but that penalty shot marker was the lone goal the Wild scored. Fun fact: this game featured P.K. Subban’s first, and thus far only, career hat trick.

Montreal Canadiens – 11-1 vs. Detroit Red Wings, Dec. 2, 1995
Canadiens fans recall this contest not just because of the score, but because it was the last straw for Patrick Roy in Montreal. Left in for nine goals against, once he was mercifully yanked by coach Mario Tremblay, Roy famously told Ronald Corey that he had played his last game for the Canadiens. The rest is history.

Nashville Predators – 9-4 vs. Colorado Avalanche, Nov. 7, 2019

New Jersey Devils – 13-4 vs. Edmonton Oilers, Nov. 19, 1983
The funny thing about this outing is it had all the makings of a New Jersey cakewalk through the early going. Three minutes in, the Devils were out to a 2-0 lead. And while it did end up being one of those nights for New Jersey, it was so for all the wrong reasons. Over the final 56 minutes of the contest, the Devils were outscored 13-2. Wayne Gretzky had eight points, because of f course he did.

New York Islanders – 11-4 vs. Calgary Flames, Feb. 25, 1981
Maybe it’s something of an arbitrary mark, but this game holds an interesting distinction. In the first period, the two teams scored a combined six goals in 4:56, which makes it the 33rd-fastest occurrence of two teams combining for six goals. It was only 1:32 after that sixth goal was scored, too, that there was a seventh, as Anders Kallur put New York ahead 4-3 midway through the first period. Unfortunately for the Islanders, that was their last goal of the game.

New York Rangers – 15-0 vs. Detroit Red Wings, Jan. 23, 1944
Four Red Wings forwards had five points, all but one had a multi-point outing and the third period saw Detroit stretch their lead from seven to 15. Syd Howe scored two goals in eight seconds in the waning moments of the game, which ties him with 15 others for the 20th-fastest pair of goals in NHL history.

Ottawa Senators – 12-3 vs. Buffalo Sabres, Oct. 30, 1992
A record for which this season’s Senators can strive. We kid. (We hope.)

Philadelphia Flyers – 12-0 vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Jan. 30, 1969
Based solely on the shots on goal total, there’s no reason this game should have been as lopsided as it was, especially when you consider the Flyers starter was Bernier Parent and the Blackhawks goaltender of record was Denis DeJordy, who, while a one-time Hall of Famer, didn’t have half the career of Parent. Philadelphia mustered 37 shots to Chicago’s 49. Maybe if the Flyers could have fired 12 more pucks at DeJordy and levelled the shots at 49 apiece they could have tied it up. We’ll never know.

Pittsburgh Penguins – 13-4 vs. Philadelphia Flyers, March 22, 1984
Fitting as it is that the Bruins’ worst defeat came at the hands of the Canadiens, it’s even more so that the Flyers handed the Penguins arguably the worst loss in franchise history. We say arguably because Pittsburgh actually lost a 12-0 affair against Montreal four years earlier, but the 13-4 loss no doubt stings more given the hatred between the two franchises.

San Jose Sharks – 13-1 vs. Calgary Flames, Feb. 10, 1993
Given the Sharks scored first, this one might be the winner for Worst Run of Unanswered Goals.

St. Louis Blues – 11-4 vs. Montreal Canadiens, March 24, 1973
We can’t say for certain that this is the game that ended Jacques Caron’s NHL career, but it certainly didn’t help. He allowed 10 goals against to the powerhouse Canadiens, who went on to win their first Stanley Cup of the Scotty Bowman era later that season, and Caron only played another 11 games in the league.

Toronto Maple Leafs – 14-4 vs. Buffalo Sabres, March 19, 1981
We hope Sabres fans watching this one got good use out of their seats through the first 20 minutes. There was hardly time to sit down after that. In the second frame, Buffalo scored nine times. Gilbert Perreault had a hat trick in the period.

Vancouver Canucks – 13-0 vs. Edmonton Oilers, Nov. 8, 1981
At what point did Canucks faithful just get on with the rest of their evening? Hopefully it wasn’t long after Jari Kurri scored to make it 6-0 in the second period because Edmonton poured it on in the third, netting another seven goals to put this one just a little out of reach.

Vegas Golden Knights – 8-2 vs. Edmonton Oilers, Nov. 14, 2017
That the Oilers appear on this list a few times isn’t all that surprising. The Gretzky era and all that. But that Edmonton is on this list for a modern era performance is, uh, surprising. Even more surprising is that this wasn’t one of those nights where Connor McDavid went off for five points. He had three, two goals and an assist, but the rest of the roster did some heavy lifting, too.

Washington Capitals – 14-2 vs. Buffalo Sabres, Dec. 21, 1975
OK, so this is the season the Capitals won 11 games. They were bad. But to further illustrate how poor Washington was, if the 14-2 loss doesn’t already highlight that enough, consider this: even if the Capitals scored on every single shot they took, they still would have only eked out a victory. Buffalo outshot Washington 50 – fifty, five-zero – to 16.

Winnipeg Jets – 10-1 vs. Buffalo Sabres, Jan. 18, 2008
This comes from the Atlanta Thrashers days, and the assumption here is probably that these were two teams heading in wildly different directions, but the truth is that at the time the Thrashers and Sabres were almost dead-even in the standings. Atlanta was actually three points ahead of Buffalo. It just so happened this was one of those nights that, to quote former NFL linebacker Bart Scott, Johan Hedberg couldn’t stop a nosebleed. He allowed seven goals on 28 shots.

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