by Dan Adkisson
There is possibly no higher feeling for a sports fan than seeing your team complete a miraculous comeback or make unexpected wins. On the other hand, there is no greater disappointment than watching your squad disintegrate right in front of your eyes. True athletes understand the amount of dedication and grit required to pull off a spectacular comeback, to resurrect one’s team from the verge of despair and defeat, whether it’s in the playoffs or a simple regular-season game.
Coming back from a significant deficit in a sport like hockey is one of the most challenging things in the world to do. Once a side is up a couple of goals, and we’ve made it through the first period, you’ll notice the team in front alter their line into a much more defensive position. In hockey, these strategies work a lot of the time. However, there are times when this strategy backfires, and this occurrence has resulted in some of the greatest comebacks in NHL history. I want to share some of those incredible experiences with you today.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers – 1982
The most remarkable comeback in NHL playoff history occurred in a series between the Los Angeles Kings and the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers in 1982 when the Kings came back from a 5-0 deficit to win Game 3 in the “Miracle on Manchester.” The series was tied at one at the time. The Oilers, led by Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky, were predicted to take the Kings apart before the series began. The Kings, led by Marcel Dionne, who was in the prime of his career, were upset winners in Game 1 and played top-seeded Edmonton to a close Game 2 loss.
Edmonton blasted out of the gates for Game 3 at The Forum in Inglewood, California, leading 2-0 after the first period. The Oilers scored three more goals after that, including a late-period tip-in by Gretzky for his second goal of the game. The third period began. The Kings scored twice in the opening six minutes, but with less than six minutes remaining, the score was still 5-2. Charlie Simmer’s goal opened the floodgates, and Mark Hardy’s goal with 4:01 left put the Kings 5-4 behind. The Kings were awarded a power play for the final two minutes of regulation, and Steve Bozek tied the game at 5 with a goal with five seconds left. The “Miracle on Manchester” was completed when Daryl Evans scored his fourth goal of the series at 2:35 in extra time.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins – 2010
Let’s go back just over a decade to the 2010 NHL Playoffs when the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers met for the first time. For various reasons, Philly’s comeback was noteworthy. To begin with, they were previously 3-0 down in the series. They fought back, and this was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. They were also down 3-0 in this game.
It’s as though they knew they’d be able to return because they’d done so previously. However, time had suddenly turned against them. So, one could believe. The game concluded in a 4-3 victory for Philly, capping off an incredible series for one of the sports’ most passionate fan bases.
Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs – 2012
Leafs Nation was in a frenzy with Toronto leading 4-1 and with 14:31 remaining on the clock. The Leafs appeared to be on their way to completing a remarkable comeback, as they led by three goals in Game 7 after trailing 3-1 in the series.
Midway in the third, Boston’s Nathan Horton would get one back. Then, with only 82 seconds remaining, Boston scored two goals, and Patrice Bergeron sealed the victory six minutes into overtime. Toronto’s Game 7 loss in Boston was the worst in NHL history.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Calgary Flames – 2009
In 2009, the Chicago Blackhawks, who were playing at home, fell behind 5-0 against the Calgary Flames early. Is it possible that this game was a wash? Should they mentally close their eyes and play it out? They may rest their starters and give their bench a chance to win the game. You might look at it in a more positive light. At the end of the day, if you’re a competitor, don’t worry about it, it’s not going to happen like that. Everybody who begins to think in that way should be investigated.
After falling behind by five goals, the Blackhawks clawed their way back into the game, tying it up in the third period. They did it, however, with only six shots on goal, and they made almost every single one of them count. Chi-Town secured the 6-5 victory in overtime.