How safe are those NHL points when leading into third period?

How safe are those NHL points when leading into third period?

The buzzer sounded to end the second period. Alex Ovechkin had given the Washington Capitals a 2-1 lead over the Colorado Avalanche, and they managed to maintain it into the third. There were 20 minutes left in regulation; but even if the game went to overtime, chances were the Capitals were pulling two points out of that game.

Washington moved to 20-1-2 on the season when leading after the second period. What’s amazing, or snore-inducing predictable, about the NHL is that their winning percentage actually ranks 12th among teams with leads after the second period.

The Calgary Flames (11-0-0) and Chicago Blackhawks (15-0-0) have yet to lose a game that they’ve led after two; add the Tampa Bay Lightning (19-0-1), New York Rangers (18-0-1), Philadelphia Flyers (11-0-1), Anaheim Ducks (16-0-2), Detroit Red Wings (13-0-2) and New Jersey Devils (11-0-6) as teams that have yet to lose in regulation when leading after two.

So far this season, 392 games have entered the third with one team winning; 79.85 percent of them ended with the team that led getting two points out of it. They earned one point at 13.27 percent of the time, with an overtime or shootout loss.

In other words, teams with leads entering the third pull at least a point out of the game 93.11 percent of the time.

So if you lead after two and fail to pull at least a point out of that game, you’re basically terrible. And yet it happened six times to the Phoenix Coyotes and New York Islanders.

(The Islanders, incidentally, are 13-2-1 this season.)

So how does that stack up to previous seasons?


Here’s a glance at the games that had a team earning two points, a point, at least a point or no points over the last few seasons.

Take it back to 2007-08, and the average percentage of games in which the team leading after two periods pulls two points out of the game is 82.06 percent.

So there is a little bit of a downward trend in the number of games that have resulted in a team leading after two winning those two points. And the number of games that include a team pulling no points is higher than before the lockout season, which was all crazy and such.

So the bottom line is that if you’re trailing after two periods, you’re looking at around an 80-percent chance that you’re not getting a point in that game. The good news, of course, is that the team that’s leading is getting at least a point over 93 percent of the time.

Even the Sabres have a .750 winning percentage when leading after two! Granted, they’ve only had a lead eight times (6-1-1), but still…