History Class: Columbus, Tampa Bay Have Very Different Game 5 Tales

By Ed Francis on August 19, 2020 at 10:35 am
Columbus Will Need To Win Three In Four Days To Continue Their Season
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Historically speaking, the Columbus Blue Jackets are in trouble.

Coming back from a 3-1 series deficit has happened 14 times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the last 20 years. More recently, it's happened only twice over the last five seasons, and while a 3-1 comeback came as recently as last year in the NHL, it was under very unique circumstances. 

But down 3-1 is where Columbus finds themselves entering Wednesday's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Blue Jackets will need to defeat the leagues best regular season offense in three consecutive games in order to advance into the second round (a likely match-up with Philadelphia) for the second straight season. 

Unfortunately, the Blue Jackets are not exactly a team that has a history of thriving in best-of-seven Game 5's. They are 0-4 in franchise history. They've never scored more than three goals in a fifth game, and they've never given up less than three goals in a fifth game. 

Two of those losses came at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, including a 5-2 loss during the 2017 postseason. That game was the only time in franchise history prior to this season in which Columbus found themselves trailing 3-1 in a best-of-seven. 

It's not to say that these Game 5's haven't been close. During the 2017-18 playoffs, it took overtime for the Washington Capitals to take a 3-2 series lead. The Caps would win in six, and pick up their first Stanley Cup in team history.

Last season against the Boston Bruins, Columbus fought back from a two goal deficit in the 3rd period to tie the game before giving up the game-winning goal with just 1:28 left in the game. The Bruins would take 3-2 series lead, win in six, and come within a game of hoisting Lord Stanley. 

Meanwhile, the story for Tampa Bay is almost the exact opposite. The Lightning have had a 3-1 series lead six times in franchise history.

They're 6-0, and in five of those series, they wrapped it up in Game 5. The exception to that came in the 2015 conference semifinals, when the Montreal Canadiens picked up a 2-1 Game 5 victory before heading back to Tampa and falling to the Lightning in six. 

Odds are not with the Blue Jackets. History is not with them, either.

But that didn't stop them last April - let's hope it doesn't stop them this time around, either.