It was extraordinary, remarkable and unprecedented.
The Toronto Maple Leafs pulled off the unthinkable in their 4-3 OT win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.
Considering the circumstances, it isn’t a surprise that some fans might have actually missed at least a portion of it.
The Maple Leafs became the first team in NHL history to come back after trailing by three goals or more in the final five minutes to win an elimination playoff game.
The fact that Toronto’s epic comeback from three goals down to win Game 4 in overtime came just one night after Columbus had rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win Game 3 in overtime made the situation seem even more improbable.
According to Elias, this is just the second series in Stanley Cup playoff history in which both teams overcame a three-goal deficit to win.
The Maple Leafs were the betting favourite to win Game 4 at -130 odds, which translates to a 56.5 per cent implied win probability.
However, everything that happened in the first 56 minutes and three seconds of that game swung the odds in favour of the Blue Jackets.
Cam Atkinson opened the scoring just 3:58 in to the first period.
Columbus added to its lead less than five minutes in to the second, when Vladislav Gavrikov scored his first career playoff goal to make it 2-0.
By the time the third period got underway, Toronto’s live odds were updated to +400 to win – a 20.0 per cent implied win probability.
Those odds would get much worse before they got better.
With less than six minutes left in regulation, Nick Foligno stole the puck from Morgan Rielly just inside the Maple Leafs’ blue line and set up Boone Jenner, who beat Frederik Andersen to make it 3-0 Columbus.
Trailing by three goals with just 5:42 left on the clock, Toronto’s deficit seemed insurmountable.
The live odds for the Maple Leafs to win lengthened all the way to +2000 – just a 4.8 per cent implied win probability.
Nobody expected what happened next.
With the net empty, William Nylander put Toronto on the board with his second goal of the playoffs – only barely getting enough on a loose puck in front of the net to beat Elvis Merzlikins.
According to Evolving Hockey, Columbus still had a 96.7 per cent chance to win the game when Nylander scored to make it 3-1 with 3:57 left on the clock.
The Maple Leafs live odds to win shortened from 40-to-1 to 12-to-1.
Less than a minute later and with the net still empty, Auston Matthews set up John Tavares in the slot for his second of the series to make it 3-2 with 3:06 remaining in the third.
After two goals in 51 seconds, Toronto’s win probability jumped from 3.3 per cent to 7.1 per cent.
The live betting odds were taken off the board.
Everybody knows what happened next.
With under a minute to go, Matthews found Zach Hyman alone near the faceoff dot.
After a quick touch to get the puck from his skate to his stick, Hyman fired the tying goal past Merzlikins.
It was 3-3 with 23 seconds left on the clock.
While everybody will remember Hyman’s goal to force overtime, it’s easy to forget what happened just a minute and 15 seconds before that.
With the Blue Jackets up 3-2 and 1:38 left in regulation, Pierre-Luc Dubois carried the puck over the Toronto blue line and fired it towards the empty net.
His shot veered just wide of the post and hit the outside of the net.
While a goal would have likely sealed a win and clinched the series, the odds were still heavily in favour of a Columbus win even after Dubois’ missed opportunity.
According to Evolving Hockey, the Blue Jackets still had a 98.6 per cent chance to win when Dubois missed the gaping net with 98 seconds left in regulation.
That changed in a hurry.
Hyman tied the game at 3-3, the final 23 seconds of the third period ran down and the two teams left the ice to prepare for overtime.
At the end of regulation, Toronto was a -150 live betting favourite to win – a 60.0 per cent implied win probability - even shorter odds than they had at the start of the game.
Seven minutes in to the extra period, Foligno was called for tripping Rielly, which sent the Maple Leafs to the powerplay.
Ten seconds later, Matthews fired the winner past Merzlikins to complete the improbable comeback win.
Friday marked the first time since 1988 that the NHL schedule featured six elimination games on one day.
Toronto’s unprecedented comeback was the only thing that prevented a clean sweep of all six teams that were facing elimination.
Before the playoffs began, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers and Leafs had the shortest odds to win the Stanley Cup of the 16 teams to compete in the Stanley Cup qualifier round.
Pittsburgh and Edmonton were both eliminated on Friday.
Now Toronto will attempt to join the Carolina Hurricanes and a pair of Canadian teams - the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks - as the only qualifying round series favourites to advance to the round of 16.
The Maple Leafs are currently listed at -145 to win Game 5 versus Columbus – a 59.2 per cent implied win probability.