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Posted at 08:57 AM ET, 04/04/2012

How to shift momentum: Just score

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS | It happened again for the 19th time this season: The Capitals gave up another goal with a minute left in a period. This time it was during a 4-2 loss to the Lightning that could have cost them their shot at winning the Southeast Division.

Washington is 8-11-0 this season in games when it ends the period on a downer and 4-4-1 when it gives up a goal in the frame's first minute. You would expect those types of goals to have a damaging effect on the hearts and minds of the team that gives them up. After all, momentum appears to instantly swing in that team's favor. But do teams gain any real advantage when scoring a goal in the first or last minute of a period?

Not really. The win percentage for a team scoring one of these “momentum-shifting” goals (empty nets excluded) is not significantly different than a coin flip, except for when it is scored in the last minute of the second frame. Teams that score in the middle period’s waning moments see a meaningful bump in their win percentage and those that score during the last 60 seconds of the game's final period in regulation win fewer games when compared to other periods.

Even if the "momentum-shifting" goal is the first goal of the game, we don't see much evidence of an actual momentum shift.

Teams are 799-239-145 this season when they score first, no matter what the time of the tally is. When they score in the first minute of the first period, for example, the team that scored wins fewer of those games than if it scored first at any other time in the game (.566 vs .682 win percentage).

Want to shift momentum in your team's favor? Just score; it really doesn't matter when.

Follow Neil on Twitter: @ngreenberg | Scoring chances

Previously: How much is Alexander Semin worth to the Capitals?

By Neil Greenberg  |  08:57 AM ET, 04/04/2012

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