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Miracle on Manchester to a silent Maple Leaf Square, the five greatest NHL comebacks

After a Swedish team came back to erase a 3-0 deficit in less than two minutes, The Hockey News looks at some of the greatest comebacks in NHL history.
The Hockey News

The Hockey News

In the Swedish third league on Wednesday, one of the most incredible comebacks in hockey history happened.

Down 3-0 in the third period, IFK Arboga scored with just under 12 minutes left in the third period. Then they scored again 20 seconds later. And again nine seconds after that. And once more 30 seconds following their third goal. In less than two minutes, Arboga had erased a three-goal deficit to Grastorps, and held on for a 4-3 victory.

While there are no four-goals-in-two-minutes comebacks in NHL history, these are the five best.

5. Minnesota Wild 6, Chicago Blackhawks 5 (SO) – Jan. 9, 2010

While it’s hard to imagine the eventual 2010 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks blowing a massive lead to a Minnesota Wild team that didn’t even make the playoffs, exactly that happened just nine days into 2010.

The Blackhawks fired out of the gates, scoring early and often, including a highlight reel worthy spinning pass from Patrick Kane to Jonathan Toews. When Marian Hossa buried a shorthanded breakaway with 1:30 left in the second period, you wouldn’t have blamed Wild fans that started to leave the building with the home team down 5-1.

But in a two-minute span from 6:44 to 8:49 in the third period, Minnesota tallied three times, bringing the game to within one. Minnesota’s Guillaume Latendresse scored with 1:30 left in the third, tying the game, and the Wild would go on to win the game in an eight round shootout.

4. Philadelphia Flyers 4, Boston Bruins 3 – May 14, 2010

Both 2010 Stanley Cup finalists make appearances early on this list, but to a different final result.

The Flyers comeback against the Bruins lands at fourth spot for two reasons: what the win accomplished and the poetic final score. Down 3-0 in the series to the Bruins, the Flyers victory carried them to a 4-3 series victory and was the catalyst for a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Down 3-0 in the seventh game before the first period was through, James van Reimsdyk started the charge for the Flyers. His goal late in the first gave Philadelphia some hope.

Second period goals by Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere sent the crowd at Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center, where the game was being shown on the scoreboard screens, into fits of joy.

The Flyers’ Simon Gagne scored the winning goal on the power play at 12:52 of the third period and hung on for 4-3 comeback win in both the game and the series, the first team to erase a 3-0 series deficit in 35 years.

3. Boston Bruins 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 4 (OT) – May 13, 2013

You had to know it’d be on the list.

After nearly a decade without the playoffs, the Maple Leafs looked to be on the cusp of making it to the second round with a 4-1 lead on the rival Bruins with less than 15 minutes left in the third period of game seven. Nathan Horton drew the Bruins closer with a goal midway through the final frame.

Then, the final two minutes happened.

First, Milan Lucic found a loose puck in front and batted it in with just 1:22 left in the game. With the Bruins down by one and the net empty, the puck was worked back to the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron at the blueline. He ripped a wrist shot that found its way through a maze of bodies and past Leafs goaltender James Reimer. Just like that, the game was tied with less than a minute left.

In overtime, Bergeron would again play hero, scoring the series clincher just after the six-minute mark, sending the Bruins to the second round and silencing a packed Maple Leaf Square.

2. St. Louis Blues 6, Toronto Maple Leafs 5 (OT) – Nov. 29, 2000

Speaking of improbable comebacks, it’s not often you see an NHL team blow a 5-0 lead in the third period. Late in November 2000, the Maple Leafs did exactly that.

There was a prescient moment in this game when Fox Sports Midwest commentator Ken Wilson wondered aloud after a Chris Pronger goal that made the score 5-1 for Toronto. “You don’t think, do you? No,” Wilson said. “Could you come back from a 5-0 deficit in the third period?”

Well, Ken, you certainly can.

Minutes after Pronger’s goal, the Blues went to the power play and Alexander Khavanov scored to pull St. Louis to within three. Less than two minutes later, again on the power play, Al Macinnis let go one of his patented slapshots and suddenly the Blues were down by two. Michal Handzus would score later in the third, bringing the Blues within one. With only 25 seconds left and the puck bouncing around in front of the Toronto net, Khavanov slip in from the blueline and buried the game-tying goal.

It would take only 18 seconds of the overtime frame for the Blues to seal the win. After a broken play behind the Maple Leafs goal, St. Louis’ Pavol Demitra found Jochen Hecht standing alone in front for the OT winner.

1. The Miracle On Manchester – April 10, 1982

Before the Edmonton Oilers entered their dynastic years, they had to take a few lumps. The one game that will likely always stand out is game three of the Campbell Conference semi-final in 1982.

Like number two on this list, the score was 5-0. Unlike the 2000 Maple Leafs, however, the Oilers team had names like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, and Grant Fuhr. Heavily favored to win the series against the Los Angeles Kings, the Oilers would fall in a shocker in game three.

Down 5-0 to the high-powered Oilers entering the third period, Jay Wells got the Kings going with a tally three minutes into the third. From the six-minute to sixteen-minute mark, a span of ten minutes, Los Angeles would pot another three to draw themselves within one.

With five seconds left, Steve Bozek, who had assisted on the Kings fourth goal, became a Los Angeles legend. Los Angeles’ Mark Hardy had taken a low shot that ricocheted off of Grant Fuhr’s pads onto the stick of Bozek, who was alone in front of the net. With one quick backhand, Bozek’s shot found its way past Fuhr and tied the game.

In overtime, the Darryl Evans scored right off of a faceoff just two minutes in. Los Angeles had come back from 5-0 for a 6-5 overtime victory. The Kings would go on to win the series, upsetting the Oilers.


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