The Dallas Stars are trying to accomplish the same feat as the 1975 NY Islanders

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins
New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins / George Gojkovich/GettyImages

The Dallas Stars defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 on Saturday night to send the Western Conference Final back to Dallas for Game 6, with the Stars trailing 3 games to 2. Dallas is attempting to become just the fifth team in NHL history to come back from down 3-0 to win a playoff series.

Whenever a team first goes down 3-0, articles pop up detailing just how unlikely it is for a team to win four straight games to win a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It's not as rare as in the NBA (the Celtics will try to become the first on Monday night), but it has happened just four times in NHL history. The 1975 New York Islanders weren't the first but arguably were the most unlikely.

The first time it happened was in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final when the Toronto Maple Leafs completed an epic comeback over the Detroit Red Wings.

It was 33 years until the Islanders' win over the Penguins and then another 35 years before the Philadelphia Flyers did it in the second round against the Boston Bruins in 2010. It happened again four years later in 2014, when the Los Angeles Kings shocked the San Jose Sharks and carried that momentum all the way to their second Stanley Cup in three years.


Things looked bleak for the Islanders as they allowed 18 goals in the first three games with Billy Smith in net, losing by the scores of 5-4, 3-1, and 6-4. It was even worse than that, as head coach Al Arbour was spending time at the hospital in between practices and games for a slipped disk that was causing him back pain.

The Penguins has nine 20+ goal scorers on their roster and were overpowering the upstart Islanders despite the upstart team from Long Island riding a wave of momentum after stunning the New York Rangers on JP Parise's goal 11 seconds into OT in Game 3 of the preliminary round at Madison Square Garden.

The Islanders would now need to win four straight games, including two in Pittsburgh, a place the Isles had never won (0-4-3) heading into the playoff matchup. First things first, the Islanders needed to win Game 4 at home and did that 3-1 when Clark Gillies and Parise scored 39 seconds apart in the third period. Then in Game 5, Glenn 'Chico' Resch made 36 saves to hold off the Penguins 4-2 as Jude Drouin scored an empty net goal in the final minute to send the series back to the Nassau Coliseum.

Back on home ice, the Islanders were able to stall the Penguins' offense once again. Ralph Stewart broke a scoreless tie in the second period, and Garry Howatt scored the eventual game-winner at 15:16 of the period. Ed Westfall and Howatt both scored empty-net goals in the 4-1 win as Resch starred again, this time with 31 saves.

The stage was set for Game 7 back in Pittsburgh with the Islanders having the momentum and suddently riding a hot goaltender in Resch. On this night, he was as good as he's ever been and needed to be stopping every Pittsburgh shot as they outshot the Isles 30-17.

The game remained scoreless late into the third period, when Westfall, the team's captain, scored on a backhand at 14:42 of the period to give the Isles a 1-0 lead and complete a series comeback for the ages. The 1975 team would fall behind 3 games to 0 in the next series against the Flyers and once again rallied back to force a Game 7, but this time were unable to complete the unlikely feat.