Four of the first five games in this first-round series have required overtime, the lone exception being Washington’s strangely comfortable 4-1 win in Game 4 on Thursday in Columbus. As NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti noted Sunday, the Capitals are the first team in NHL history to play a combined nine overtime games in the first round of consecutive postseasons. Exciting is one word to describe that feat. Absurd is another.
As Gulitti also noted Sunday, the other 14 playoff teams this season have played a combined 35 games, only one of which hasn’t ended in regulation. Must be nice.
Columbus and Washington don’t do chill in the postseason. The Blue Jackets are short on playoff history — John Tortorella’s team is still looking for its first series win — but seven of their 20 postseason games have gone to overtime. No franchise has played a greater percentage of overtime playoff games. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that more than a quarter (66) of the Capitals’ 256 playoff games have required extra time, the third-highest percentage (25.8) in league history.
Carolina, which played seven overtime games en route to winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, ranks second at 26.8 percent, but the Hurricanes have missed the postseason nine straight years, giving their fans’ hearts time to recover. Winnipeg, which clinched its first playoff series win in franchise history Friday, has played one playoff overtime game in 13 contests. (The original Jets’ record book belongs to the Arizona Coyotes.) The St. Louis Blues have played the same number of playoff overtime games as Washington … in 109 more games.
More than half of Washington’s playoff overtime games have come in the past decade; more than half of Columbus’s playoff overtime games have come in the past two weeks. Since Alex Ovechkin’s rookie season in 2005-06, 35 of Washington’s 102 postseason games (34.3 percent) have gone to overtime. Only Toronto, Florida, Colorado and Columbus have played a greater percentage of playoff overtime games during that span. Five of Toronto’s seven playoff overtime games since 2005-06 came in last year’s first-round series against the Capitals.
Washington is 30-36 all-time in playoff overtime games, while Columbus is 4-3. At this point, it’s hard to remember when overtime wasn’t synonymous with Capitals playoff hockey. In fact, the last time the Capitals played a series in which no game went to overtime was 2009 against the New York Rangers. That first-round matchup also marked the last time Washington won a series after trailing two games to none. That series went seven games, and three of them, including Washington’s 2-1 win in Game 7, were decided by one goal. Washington then would lose two of three overtime games and the series to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.
So, Carolina and Washington in the first round next year?
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