The 2011 Stanley Cupplayoffs of the National Hockey League (NHL) began on April 13, 2011, after the conclusion of the 2010–11 NHL regular season. The first game of the Finals was held on June 1, while the deciding seventh game was held on June 15.
The Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in the Finals to capture their first Stanley Cup championship since 1972, their sixth overall Stanley Cup win. Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player during the playoffs. Bruins forward David Krejci lead all playoff scorers with 23 points in 25 games.
After the regular season, the standard 16 teams qualified for the playoffs. The Vancouver Canucks were the Western Conference regular season champions and the Presidents' Trophy winners with the best record in the NHL at 117 points. The Washington Capitals earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference with 107 points. This is the first time in sports history that all California teams have made the playoffs in the same year. It also marked the first year since 1996 that the New Jersey Devils missed the playoffs, ending a 13-year playoff streak.
- Washington Capitals, Southeast Division champions, Eastern Conference regular season champions – 107 points
- Philadelphia Flyers, Atlantic Division champions – 106 points (44 ROWs)
- Boston Bruins, Northeast Division champions – 103 points
- Pittsburgh Penguins – 106 points (39 ROWs)
- Tampa Bay Lightning – 103 points
- Montreal Canadiens – 96 points (41 ROWs)
- Buffalo Sabres – 96 points (38 ROWs)
- New York Rangers – 93 points
- Vancouver Canucks, Northwest Division champions, Western Conference regular season champions, Presidents' Trophy winners – 117 points
- San Jose Sharks, Pacific Division champions – 105 points
- Detroit Red Wings, Central Division champions – 104 points
- Anaheim Ducks – 99 points (43 ROWs)
- Nashville Predators – 99 points (38 ROWs, 4 points head-to-head vs. Phoenix, +25 goal differential)
- Phoenix Coyotes – 99 points (38 ROWs, 4 points head-to-head vs. Nashville, +5 goal differential)
- Los Angeles Kings – 98 points
- Chicago Blackhawks – 97 points
In each round, the highest remaining seed in each conference is matched against the lowest remaining seed. The higher-seeded team is awarded home ice advantage. In the Stanley Cup Final series, home ice is determined based on regular season points. Each best-of-seven series follows a 2–2–1–1–1 format: the higher-seeded team plays at home for games one and two (plus five and seven if necessary), and the lower-seeded team is at home for games three and four (and if necessary, game six).
|Conference Quarterfinals||Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||Stanley Cup Finals|
|8||NY Rangers||1||5||Tampa Bay||4|
|(Pairings are re-seeded after the first round.)|
- During the first three rounds home ice is determined by seeding number, not position on the bracket. In the Finals the team with the better regular season record has home ice.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) New York Rangers
The Washington Capitals entered the playoffs as the Eastern Conference regular season champions, earning 107 points. The New York Rangers qualified for the postseason as the eighth seed with 93 points. This was the sixth playoff series between the two franchises; Washington had won three of the previous five meetings between these teams. The two teams had previously met in the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, in which the Capitals defeated the Rangers in seven games. In the regular season series, the Rangers held a 3–1–0 record, winning the last three games by a combined score of 15–1, although the Rangers were only able to score eight goals in this series, losing it in five games.
|Washington won series 4–1|
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres
The Philadelphia Flyers entered the playoffs as the second seed in the Eastern Conference after winning the Atlantic Division with 106 points, winning the tiebreaker over the Pittsburgh Penguins on regulation + overtime wins (44 to 39). The Buffalo Sabres earned the seventh seed with 96 points, losing the tiebreaker to Montreal on wins (43 to 44). This was the ninth meeting of these two teams in the postseason; Philadelphia had won five of the eight previous playoff series. Their previous matchup occurred during the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, which ended with Buffalo defeating Philadelphia in six games.
The series started out with a 1–0 shutout victory for Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller in game one, while Philadelphia came back to win games two and three. Miller got another 1–0 shutout victory in game four to tie the series at 2–2. In game five, Buffalo was up 3–0 at the end of the first period, but Philadelphia scored three goals to send the game to overtime. However, Tyler Ennis of Buffalo would score the overtime winner. In game six, Buffalo looked in good position to win after being up 3–1 after the first period, but Philadelphia rallied back, winning the game 5–4 on Ville Leino's overtime winner. In game seven, Philadelphia went up 4–0 about two minutes into the third period on a goal by Leino. Philadelphia ended up winning the game by a score of 5–2, winning the series four games to three.
|Philadelphia won series 4–3|
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens
The Boston Bruins entered the playoffs as the third seed in the Eastern Conference after winning the Northeast Division with 103 points. The Montreal Canadiens earned the sixth seed with 96 points, winning the tiebreaker over Buffalo on wins (44 to 43). One of the greatest rivalries in North American professional sports, this was the 33rd meeting of these teams in the postseason, which is the most frequent playoff series in NHL history. Montreal had a record of 24–8 against Boston in the 32 previous series played by the franchises, winning 18 straight between 1946 and 1987. Boston had only beaten Montreal en route to winning the championship once before, in 1929. The most recent meeting of these teams in the postseason was in 2009, which ended with Boston sweeping Montreal.
During the 2010–11 season, Montreal won four of six meetings. The February 9 game in which Boston won 8–6 featured six fights, a goalie fight, and a total of 187 penalty minutes. The March 8 game, where the Canadiens beat the Bruins 4–1, was marred when the Bruins' Zdeno Chara checked Habs' Max Pacioretty into the glass, and the resulting injury ended Pacioretty's season. The NHL did not suspend Chara for the hit, however Montreal Police opened a criminal investigation into the incident.
In this series, the Boston Bruins dropped their first two games at home, but came back to hang on to a game three victory in Montreal. In game four, Andrei Kostitsyn gave the Montreal Canadiens a 3–1 lead, which they couldn't take advantage of, falling 5–4 on an overtime goal by former Montreal Canadien Michael Ryder. Game five was sent into double overtime for Nathan Horton to win it 2–1 for Boston, but in game six, Montreal scored twice on 5-on-3 power plays and won it 2–1. Game seven was also forced into overtime, where Nathan Horton again won the game 4–3 and sent the Bruins to the second round of the playoffs. Boston became the first team to win a seven-game post-season series despite being held scoreless on the power play.
On April 10, the scheduled date of the French-language Canadian federal election debate between party leaders was changed from April 14 to April 13 so it would not conflict with game one of the series. Games six and seven were played back-to-back due to a Lady Gaga concert, held on April 25 at the Bell Centre, and the requirement that the first round of the playoffs end by April 27.
|April 14||Montreal Canadiens||2–0||Boston Bruins||TD Garden||Recap|
|Brian Gionta 1 – 02:44||First period||No scoring|
|No scoring||Second period||No scoring|
|Brian Gionta 2 – 16:42||Third period||No scoring|
|Carey Price 31 saves / 31 shots||Goalie stats||Tim Thomas 18 saves / 20 shots|
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning
The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the playoffs as the fourth overall seed in the Eastern Conference with 106 points, losing the tiebreaker for the Atlantic Division title to the Philadelphia Flyers on regulation + overtime wins (39 to 44). The Tampa Bay Lightning earned 103 points during the regular season to finish fifth overall in the Eastern Conference. This was the first playoff series between these two teams.
To start the series, Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury shut-out Tampa Bay 3–0 in game one, with the Lightning responding with a 5–1 win in game two. Unfortunately for the Lightning, they dropped games three and four (game four in double overtime), only to answer with a huge 8–2 victory in Pittsburgh, forcing a game six at home that ended 4–2 in favour of Tampa Bay. In game seven, Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim scored about five minutes into the second period. The Lightning managed to hold on to that 1–0 lead, advancing to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The 2014Stanley Cupplayoffs of the National Hockey League (NHL) began on April 16, 2014 and ended June 13, 2014 when the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers four games to one in the Stanley Cup Final.
For the first time since 1973, only one Canadian team qualified for the playoffs: the Montreal Canadiens. This was also the first time since the 1978 Stanley Cup playoffs that no playoff games were played in Western Canada. The Detroit Red Wings increased their consecutive playoff appearance streak to 23 seasons, the longest streak at the time and the fifth longest streak in NHL history. The Dallas Stars ended the league's third longest active playoff appearance drought, qualifying for the postseason for the first time in six years. For the third time in four years, all three California teams again made the playoffs. The Columbus Blue Jackets won their first franchise playoff game on April 19, 2014, and their first ever franchise playoff home game at Nationwide Arena on April 23, 2014, both against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Three Original Six teams reached the Conference Finals, the first time this has occurred since 1979.
The 2013–14 playoffs opening round featured leads changing hands more so than any other year. After the Anaheim Ducks rallied from a 4–2 deficit to defeat the Dallas Stars in game six of their opening round series on April 27, 2014, an NHL record was broken for most multi-goal comebacks by all teams in the opening round, with ten. In all four rounds combined in the previous year's playoffs, there were only eight such victories. It also marked just the fourth time in NHL playoff history that a team who led a series 3–0 in a seven-game series failed to advance, when the San Jose Sharks lost to the Los Angeles Kings in game seven of the opening round on April 30, 2014.
On May 29, 2014, the New York Rangers became the first team to ever advance past the Conference Finals after playing two seven-game series in the opening two rounds. The Rangers also became the first captainless team to reach the finals since the Chicago Black Hawks in 1973. That same seven-game mark was eclipsed on June 1, 2014, as the Los Angeles Kings became the first team to ever reach the Stanley Cup Finals after having played three consecutive seven-game series. Los Angeles played all three of their game sevens on the road. Game five of the Stanley Cup final marked the 93rd game of the 2014 playoffs, eclipsing the previous single-year record of 92 established in 1991.
The Kings tied the 1987 Philadelphia Flyers and the 2004 Calgary Flames, for most games played (26) in one playoff year.
Further information: Stanley Cup playoffs § Current format
The NHL adopted a new league alignment for the 2013–14 season, as the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets were moved to the Eastern Conference and the Winnipeg Jets to the Western Conference. The 16-team Eastern Conference was then divided into two 8-team divisions (Metropolitan and Atlantic), while the 14-team Western Conference was divided into two 7-team divisions (Pacific and Central). As part of the realignment, the NHL also switched its former conference-based playoff structure to a divisional-based playoff structure. The top three teams from each division qualified for that conference's playoffs. The remaining two playoff spots in each conference were wild card teams, which were the top two clubs from each conference that failed to win a divisional playoff spot.
The following teams qualified for the playoffs:
- Boston Bruins, Atlantic Division champions, Eastern Conference regular season champions, Presidents' Trophy winners – 117 points
- Tampa Bay Lightning – 101 points
- Montreal Canadiens – 100 points
- Pittsburgh Penguins, Metropolitan Division champions – 109 points
- New York Rangers – 96 points
- Philadelphia Flyers – 94 points
- Columbus Blue Jackets – 93 points (38 ROWs)
- Detroit Red Wings – 93 points (34 ROWs)
- Colorado Avalanche, Central Division champions – 112 points
- St. Louis Blues – 111 points
- Chicago Blackhawks – 107 points
- Anaheim Ducks, Pacific Division champions, Western Conference regular season champions – 116 points
- San Jose Sharks – 111 points
- Los Angeles Kings – 100 points
- Minnesota Wild – 98 points
- Dallas Stars – 91 points
In each round, teams compete in a best-of-seven series following a 2–2–1–1–1 format (scores in the bracket indicate the number of games won in each best-of-seven series). The team with home ice advantage plays at home for games one and two (and games five and seven, if necessary), and the other team is at home for games three and four (and game six, if necessary). The top three teams in each division make the playoffs, along with two wild cards in each conference, for a total of eight teams from each conference.
In the First Round, the lower seeded wild card in the conference plays against the division winner with the best record while the other wild card plays against the other division winner, and both wild cards are de facto #4 seeds. The other series match the second and third place teams from the divisions. In the first two rounds, home ice advantage is awarded to the team with the better seed; in the last two rounds, it is awarded to the team that had the better regular season record. Beginning in 2013–14, the NHL officially changed the names of the first two rounds of the playoffs from Conference Quarterfinal/Semifinal to First/Second Round.
|First Round||Second Round||Conference Finals||Stanley Cup Finals|
Eastern Conference First Round
(A1) Boston Bruins vs. (WC2) Detroit Red Wings
The Boston Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy for earning the league's best record, with 117 points. The Detroit Red Wings earned 93 points during the regular season, and entered the playoffs as the Eastern Conference's second wild card. This was the eighth playoff meeting for these Original Six teams, with Boston having won four of the seven previous series. They last met in the 1957 Stanley Cup Semifinals, which Boston won in five games. The Red Wings won three of the four games in this year's regular season series.
The Bruins eliminated the Red Wings in five games. In game one, Pavel Datsyuk scored the only goal with 3:01 left in Detroit's 1–0 victory, but Boston went on to win four straight contests to capture the series. Four different Bruins players scored goals in Boston's 4–1 win in game two. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask then stopped all 23 Detroit shots in a 3–0 victory in game three. In game four, Boston overcame a two-goal, second-period deficit, scoring three unanswered goals – including Jarome Iginla's game-winner at 13:32 of overtime to win 3–2. The Bruins clinched the series with a 4–2 win in game five, as Torey Krug recorded two assists, and Rask made 31 saves on 33 shots.
|April 18||Detroit Red Wings||1–0||Boston Bruins||TD Garden||Recap|
|No scoring||First period||No scoring|
|No scoring||Second period||No scoring|
|Pavel Datsyuk (1) – 16:59||Third period||No scoring|
|Jimmy Howard 25 saves / 25 shots||Goalie stats||Tuukka Rask 23 saves / 24 shots|
(A2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (A3) Montreal Canadiens
The Tampa Bay Lightning finished second overall in the Atlantic Division, earning 101 points. The Montreal Canadiens earned 100 points during the regular season, to finish third overall in the Atlantic Division. This was the second playoff meeting for these two teams. Their only previous meeting was in the 2004 Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which Tampa Bay swept Montreal out of the playoffs en route to their Stanley Cup victory. The Lightning won three of the four games in this year's regular season series.
The Canadiens swept the Lightning, who were without their starting goalie Ben Bishop after he suffered an injury during the last few weeks of the regular season. With Anders Lindback in the Tampa Bay net, Steven Stamkos of the Lightning scored at 13:27 of the third period to tie game one, 4–4, before Montreal's Dale Weise won it at 18:08 of overtime.Rene Bourque scored two goals, and Carey Price stopped 26 out of 27 shots, in the Canadiens' 4–1 win in game two. At 15:38 of the second period of game three, Tampa Bay's Ryan Callahan appeared to give his team a 2–1 lead, but his goal was waved off as the officials ruled that there was contact between Alexander Killorn and Price; Montreal's Brendan Gallagher then scored minutes later, and the Canadiens went on to win 3–2.Max Pacioretty then scored a power-play goal at 19:17 of the third period of game four to give Montreal the 4–3 win and the series.
(M1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (WC1) Columbus Blue Jackets
The Pittsburgh Penguins finished first overall in the Metropolitan Division, earning 109 points. The Columbus Blue Jackets earned 93 points during the regular season, and entered the playoffs as the Eastern Conference's first wild card, making the post-season for the first time since 2009, and only the second time in the franchise's history. This was the first playoff meeting for these two teams. The Penguins won all five games in this year's regular season series.
The Blue Jackets recorded their first ever playoff victories in team history, but the Penguins still managed to win the series in six games. The first five games in the series featured comebacks, including 3–1 leads evaporating into 4–3 losses in the first four games. In game one, Pittsburgh scored three unanswered goals, including Brandon Sutter's game winner 8:18 in the third period, to overcome a two-goal deficit to win, 4–3. Columbus then overcame a two-goal deficit in game two after Pittsburgh built their lead with Brian Gibbons scoring his first two playoff goals, including a short-handed one. Matt Calvert then scored both a short-handed goal and then the game-winner 1:10 into double overtime to give the Blue Jackets their first playoff victory in franchise history. game three saw Brooks Orpik score his second ever playoff goal with less than 2 seconds remaining in the second period. The Blue Jackets would jump back up to a two-goal lead at the start of the third period, thanks to Cam Atkinson’s first ever playoff goal. But the Penguins scored three goals in a span of 2:13 in the third period, including Jussi Jokinen's game-winner at 8:06, for another 4–3 win. The Blue Jackets then overcame a three-goal deficit in game four to record a fourth 4–3 contest in this series, with Brandon Dubinsky tying the game with 24 seconds left in regulation after Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury mishandled the puck from behind his own net, allowing Ryan Johansen to fling the puck to a wide open Dubinsky. Nick Foligno then scored the game-winner at 2:49 into overtime, which gave the Blue Jackets their first home playoff victory in team history. But Fleury rebounded in game five, making 23 saves out of 24 shots in Pittsburgh's 3–1 win. Columbus lost despite spectacular play by Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 48 of 50 shots but did not receive the goal support needed to win. In game six, Evgeni Malkin's second career playoff hat trick helped the Penguins build a 4–0 lead, but they had to withstand a late comeback attempt by the Blue Jackets, who scored three unanswered goals in a span of five minutes late in the third period, to hold on to the 4–3 victory.
|Pittsburgh won series 4–2|
(M2) New York Rangers vs. (M3) Philadelphia Flyers
The New York Rangers finished second overall in the Metropolitan Division, earning 96 points. The Philadelphia Flyers earned 94 points during the regular season, to finish third overall in the Metropolitan Division. This was the 11th playoff meeting for these rivals, with Philadelphia having won six of the ten previous series. Their most recent meeting was in the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals, which Philadelphia won in five games. Each team won two games in this year's four-game regular season series.
The Rangers eliminated the Flyers in seven games. New York scored two power play goals, and Brad Richards recorded a goal and two assists, in a 4–1 victory in game one. The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit, scoring four unanswered goals from four different players to win game two, 4–2. In game three, Daniel Girardi and Martin St. Louis each had a goal and an assist as they led the Rangers to another 4–1 win.Steve Mason then replaced Ray Emery as the starting goalie for the Flyers in game four. Mason went on to make 37 saves out of 38 shots, and Jakub Voracek scored the game-winning goal on a power play in the second period, as Philadelphia won, 2–1. However, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves out of 25 shots en route to a 4–2 Rangers win in game five. Back at home in game six, Wayne Simmonds recorded a hat-trick, leading Philadelphia to a 5–2 win. game seven was played the next night, where the Rangers jumped to a 2–0 lead in the second period, and with Henrik Lundqvist stopping 26 out of 27 shots, the Rangers hung on for a 2–1 win. The Rangers became the only NHL team to remain undefeated in a home game seven with a 6–0 franchise record.