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How have Stanley Cup finalists fared after blowout losses historically?

The Predators are the fourth team in the expansion era to lose a Stanley Cup final game by six or more goals. Have previous teams bounced back after similar embarrassing defeats?

That did not go as planned, Nashville Predators.

Riding high after evening up the Stanley Cup final 2-2 with two convincing wins on home ice, the Preds played their worst game of the series and the Penguins played their best Thursday night at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena. The result: a 6-0 shellacking, putting the Pens ahead 3-2 in the series, one win away from a repeat championship.

And this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill blowout we might see in some meaningless February game involving a last-place team. This was Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. The Preds became the first team since the 2011 Vancouver Canucks to lose a Cup final game by at least six goals. Vancouver fell 8-1 to Boston in Game 3 of the 2011 final. The Preds and Canucks are the only teams to do so in the past 20 seasons. Since 1967-68 expansion, just four teams have lost by six or more goals in the final, the other two being the 1996 Panthers, who lost 8-1 to the Colorado Avalanche, and the 1991 Minnesota North Stars, who lost 8-0 to hand the Penguins a championship.

The Preds are in such rare company that it’s tough to look at historical data in hopes of predicting how and if they bounce back from the embarrassment of a 6-0 defeat. The other three teams that lost by six or more goals didn’t get up from those haymaker blows. The North Stars’ series was over, and the 2011 Canucks and 1996 Panthers lost the next game and the series.

What if we expand the list to teams losing by five or more goals in the Cup final since expansion? Even that’s happened only 17 times. The full list:



Next game

Series win

May 3, 1970

Bos 6, Stl 1

Bos win


April 29, 1973

Mtl 8, Chi 3

Mtl win


May 15, 1980

Phi 8, NYI 3

NYI win


May 12, 1984

NYI 6, Edm 1

Edm win


May 15, 1984

Edm 7, NYI 2

Edm win


May 17, 1984

Edm 7, NYI 2

Edm win


May 30, 1985

Edm 8, Phi 3

Series over


May 18, 1990

Bos 7, Edm 2

Bos win


May 25, 1991

Pit 8, Min 0

Series over


June 6, 1996

Col 8, Fla 1

Col win


June 5, 1997

Det 6, Phi 1

Det win


May 26, 2001

Col 5, NJ 0

NJ win


June 7, 2006

Car 5, Edm 0

Edm win


June 6, 2009

Det 5, Pit 0

Pit win


June 6, 2011

Bos 8, Van 1

Bos win


June 11, 2012

LA 6, NJ 1

Series over


June 8, 2017

Pit 6, Nsh 0



Prior to the Preds, 15 teams lost by five or more goals in a Cup final game (not 16, as the 1984 Islanders lost twice by five or more in one series). Of those 15 teams, 12, or 80 percent, ended up losing the Cup final.

The poor 1985 Flyers, 1991 North Stars and 2012 Devils never got to avenge their humiliations because their blowout defeats ended their series.

Some teams responded after getting dominated. We’ve seen 13 opportunities for a team to bounce back after a loss of five or more goals in the final, and five of those teams, or 38.5 percent, earned back some pride with victories the next game. Of the five teams who did so, four did it at home. The Predators head back to Nashville and Bridgestone Arena for Game 6. They’re 9-1 there this post-season, with their lone defeat coming in overtime.

The sample size is small and the data is largely circumstantial, so it’s primarily a just-for-fun exercise to look at previous Cup finalists who suffered blowouts. Still, it’s fascinating to see just how many teams ate losses that horrific and went on to lose their series. It’s like the blowouts finally reveal a glaring discrepancy between the two teams. The Predators can only hope they become an exception to the rule.




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