Beyond The Benches

Top 5 Worst NHL Playoff Collapses

The Los Angeles Kings erased a three games to none deficit to come back and win their series against the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Kings became only the forth team in NHL history to win a series after dropping the first three games. Depending on which team you support, it can be looked at as a miraculous comeback or an epic collapse.

Choosing the latter, here are the top 5 worst playoff collapses in NHL history.

5. San Jose Sharks blow 3-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings (2014)

It just happened but the Sharks collapse rightfully earned a place on this historic list. The Kings took advantage of a Sharks team playing scared and won the last two games of the series by a combined score of 9-2 to complete the comeback.  Losing a best-of-7 series after winning the first three games is one of the rarest and most excruciating experiences in sports, and considering the fact that it has only occurs four times in the history of the NHL, this collapse had to make the list.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins blow 3-0 series lead against the New York Islanders (1975)

In 1975, the Pittsburgh Penguins became just the second team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead when they had a meltdown against the New York Islanders in the quarterfinals. The Penguins’ dynamic offense, which combined to score 14 goals in the first three games, completely fizzled out and was held to just five goals over the next four games, all of which were losses. 1975 is a year Penguins fans do not like to think about.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs blow 4-1 game 7 lead against the Boston Bruins (2013)

Toronto had built a seemingly unassailable 4-1 third period lead in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. What happened next was nothing short of miraculous. Boston scored three unanswered goals, two of which came in the final minutes after they had pulled their goalie. The Bruins then sealed Toronto’s collapse and won the series with Patrice Bergeron’s overtime goal. The Maple Leafs have a tortured history, but this may have been the worst moment as a franchise.

2. Boston Bruins blow 3-0 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers (2010)

The Bruins suffered a meltdown against the Flyers during Game 7 to effectively complete their collapse in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals after being up three games to none. Game 7 served as a painful microcosm for the series as Boston lead the game 3-0 before surrendering four unanswered goals to lose both the game and the series 4-3. The Bruins got their redemption by winning the Stanley Cup a year later, but 2010 still haunts many Bruins fans.

1. Detroit Red Wings blow 3-0 series lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs (1942)

Detroit’s monumental collapse against the Maple Leafs occurred during the 1942 Stanley Cup Final and it remains the only instance in American professional sports history in which a team blew a 3-0 series lead in a final or championship series. Detroit was one agonizing win away from being able to engrave their names on Lord Stanley’s Cup, but they couldn’t get the job done in the four chances that they had. This Red Wings collapse remains one of the worst collapses not only in NHL history, but sports history as well.



Noam Waksman is currently a junior at Connecticut College (go camels!) where he majors in English and Psychology. An unabashed Boston sports fan since birth, the Bruins have always held a special place in his heart. Noam resides in Wellesley, MA and can be reached on twitter @NoamWaksman or by email at

(Photo Credit: YouTube screenshot)