The NHL playoffs should be going on right now, but of course they’re not. Still why not take a gander at how extra time has gone for the Penguins over the years, courtesy a spreadsheet that Darnay has maintained.
The main motivation of this was to point out on today’s date in 2014 there was a double OT game against the Columbus Blue Jackets that served as their franchise’s first ever playoff win. But, that’s no fun. So bigger picture, it’s interesting where the swings have been. Pittsburgh started out red hot in the Sidney Crosby / Evgeni Malkin playoff era, winning the first five playoff games and nine of the first 12 up to 2013.
Then came the bad times with eight straight playoff OT losses. Playoffs 2016 were an especially tense time with seven — seven! — overtime games. Pittsburgh went 4-3 in those contests on the way to a Stanley Cup victory, all of which came in the final three rounds. The breaks that could have gone the other way, but it all worked out. In hindsight the narrative is that 2016 team was an unstoppable juggernaut, but they certainly had a lot more interesting games then commonly remembered, and fortunately earned their destiny of becoming champions. But the margin of victory and defeat was perhaps a lot more closer than what’s thought of.
The Capitals and the Pens have been common playoff opponents and are common overtime foes as well with eight postseason OT games in the Crosby era. Fittingly for teams so close, it’s a 4-4 split. There’s been sudden heartbreak on both sides with series clinching goals going in each direction (2016 and 2018).
Five times over the years we’ve seen the Pens score a playoff OT goal to eliminate a foe. Nick Bonino’s goal against the Caps in Game 6 of 2016 is certainly memorable, but perhaps the biggest iconic modern goal is the double overtime Chris Kunitz Game 7 winner against the Ottawa Senators.
Incidentally, Kunitz is the only player for Pittsburgh to record more than one playoff OT GWG in this time period.
Overall the Pens are just 15-17 in OT in this era, including four out of the last five games. OT always can end at a second’s notice in weird and random ways, but it’s always fun and the most intense to see how that can happen. Here’s to seeing more exciting chapters unfold in the future.