Evgeni Malkin’s goal last night in overtime for the Penguins marked a turning point for the Pens. It was the first playoff OT goal since Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals against Ottawa by Chris Kunitz.
Here’s a complete listing of the playoff overtime goals that Pittsburgh has been involved with in these last 16 postseasons of the Malkin / Sidney Crosby / Kris Letang era, courtesy of Darnay’s meticulous record keeping.
Overtime has been typically cruel to the Pens, overall they are just 16-20 in this era in playoff OT games.
Last night’s triple OT win was the first Pittsburgh 3OT win since Petr Sykora’s classic goal against Detroit in the Stanley Cup Final in 2008. The Pens are now 2-1 in this era in triple OT games, which is better than the 2-4 record of games decided in 2OT.
In games decided in one overtime period, the Pens are 12-15.
The other odd occurrence is the swings and runs that can happen. The era started with five straight OT wins, followed not too long after with eight straight playoff losses. Last night’s Malkin goal broke a five-game playoff OT losing streak for the Pens.
Do overtime games foretell series results? It’s not automatic, but there certainly could be a lot of correlation there for obvious reasons, since winning an OT game can be so meaningful. Last night was the 16th OT win of this playoff era, of the 15 prior OT wins, the Pens have ended up winning the series 13 out of the 15 times.
The only exceptions where the team won a playoff OT game, but eventually lost the series was Sykora’s 3OT goal against Detroit, and then also James Neal in 2011 scored an OTG vs. Tampa.
Every other time the Pens have scored an overtime playoff goal, they have eventually ended up winning the series — which potentially gives that much more weight behind the importance of Malkin’s goal last night. Obviously, it was just one game (and Game 1 at that) and there is a lot more that must be done to win the series, but just from a statistical standpoint the pure odds of winning the series are drastically different for Malkin scoring rather than a Ranger player.
On the other hand, losing a playoff overtime game hasn’t always spelled disaster for the Penguins. Of their 20 playoff OT losses in this era, the team’s series record is still 10-10 out of those 20 games. However, from another perspective, consider that Pittsburgh has lost 12 playoff series in the Crosby era. 10/12 times when they look back on their last losing series, they will have an OT loss that will be in the mix. You have to go back to the 2011 series against Tampa to find a time for Pittsburgh where they lost a series and DIDN’T get tagged with an OT loss somewhere within said series.
And thus the great importance of NHL playoff overtime. When a team wins a series, there is a pretty good chance that they will see an OT win to help them move on and get the victory. However, when they lose a series, there’s also a good chance they will cling to a heartbreaking moment in a OT playoff loss in the equation as well.
In that regard, for Pittsburgh, we know that they have lost four straight playoff series overall, dating back to 2018 against Washington. Pittsburgh has lost at least one overtime game in each and every one of those series, including losing two OT games last year to the New York Islanders. You would have to go back to Tampa in 2011 to find a series that Pittsburgh has lost without also losing an OT game somewhere along the way in that series.
With 16 years of playoff history in this era, there isn’t too much that this core and group hasn’t seen. Malkin’s 3OT goal might not have been the first in somewhat recent times for the Pens and it was only the very first game of the series, but the impact and overall importance of scoring this goal might end up being one of the biggest and most important goals of the whole season.