One day ago, when the Wild trailed the Blues 3-0 in their opening round Western Conference playoff series, fans looking for any rays of hope had to squint awfully hard. In major pro sports history, only five teams have rallied from 3-0 deficits to win a best-of-7 series. Sure, four of those came in the NHL — but that was out of 184 total series that reached 3-0.
A comeback didn’t feel impossible, but it felt like the next-worst thing.
What a difference one day and one game makes. No, the Wild didn’t blow the Blues away in a 2-0 victory Wednesday in St. Louis, Sure, Minnesota got some of the breaks that hadn’t been going its way earlier in the series — getting a gift of a first goal when goalie Jake Allen was caught behind his net and receiving the benefit of two Blues shots clanging solidly off goalposts — but the Wild certainly played well enough to win. And in doing so, Minnesota woke up Thursday down 3-1 instead of 3-0.
Their chances have been upgraded from nearly impossible to unlikely but doable. Win three games in a row — two of them at home? Sure, why not. And suddenly the history isn’t filled with lonely exceptions to the cruel rule. Actually, it’s filled with glorious examples from which the Wild can draw.
In NHL history, 28 teams have rallied from 3-1 deficits to win a best-of-7 series. That’s 10 percent of all teams who faced those odds. The Wild accounted for two of those comebacks in one season: the 2003 playoffs, when they rallied from 3-1 down to stun both Colorado and Vancouver. In fact, three of Minnesota’s four all-time playoff series wins have involved a two-game comeback. They came back from down 2-0 against Colorado in 2014 as well.
Taking a broader view, the NBA’s Warriors could tell the Blues that a 3-1 lead is no sure thing after blowing that advantage in last year’s NBA finals. MLB’s Indians would say the same after they watched the Cubs come back from that deficit to win the World Series this past fall. The NFL doesn’t play seven game playoff series — imagine if that was the case! — but New England rallying from down 28-3 late in the third quarter to defeat the Falcons in this year’s Super Bowl is at least the equivalent of coming back from a 3-1 series deficit.
To be clear, the Wild still has a lot of work to do. But in the year of the comeback, I’m telling you there’s a chance.