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Hockey's hardest lead to keep: Roll call of playoff failures

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- It's hard to fathom how teams are bolting to leads during the first round of the playoffs but failing to seal the deal. When I asked Blues coach Ken Hitchcock about the trend Thursday, he simply said the first round is "chaotic." That's a pretty good description of a lot of the games we've seen so far.

There have been 12 games -- including at least one in all eight series -- where one team had a lead of at least two goals and let that slip away. In nine of the 12, the team blowing the lead lost the game. 

Stat heads say "score effects", which means teams that are ahead tend to let up and teams that are behind press. That's true, but I still say "goaltending effects." There's been terrible goalie play all over the place and it's been hard for anybody to lock a game down.

Here's the list of all the blown leads thus far in the postseason with a link to the boxscsore of each.

Columbus vs.  Pittsburgh
Game 1: Columbus led, 3-1.  Pittsburgh won, 4-2.
Game 2: Pittsburgh led, 2-0 and 3-1. Columbus won in 2OT, 4-3.
Game 3: Columbus led, 2-0 and 3-1. PIttsburgh won, 4-3.
Game 4:  Pittsburgh led, 3-0. Columbus won, 4-3, in OT.
(First series in NHL history where a lead of at least two goals was blown in each of the first four games)

Boston vs. Detroit
Game 4: Detroit led, 2-0. Boston won in OT, 3-2.

Montreal vs. Tampa Bay
Game 4: Montreal led, 2-0 and 3-1. Tampa tied it, 3-3. Montreal won, 4-3.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia
Game 2: NY Rangers led,  2-0. Philadelphia won, 4-2.

Chicago vs. St. Louis
Game 2: St. Louis led, 2-0. Chicago tied and led. St. Louis won, 4-3, in OT
Game 4: Chicago led, 2-0. St. Louis led, 3-2. Chicago won, 4-3,  in OT

Colorado vs. Minnesota
Game 1: Minnesota led, 4-2. Colorado won,  5-4, in OT

Anaheim vs. Dallas
Game 4: Anaheim led, 2-0. Dallas won, 4-2

Los Angeles vs. San Jose
Game 3: Los Angeles led, 2-0. San Jose won, 7-2


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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |