Two Historic Montreal Canadiens Teams Came Back From 2-0 Deficit In Stanley Cup Final

The Edmonton Oilers hope to take a page out of the Montreal Canadiens history books and come back from a 2-0 series deficit.
Yvan Cournoyer (fourth from left) and Frank Mahovlich (second from right) were part of the 1971 Montreal Canadiens. Cournoyer was also on the 1966 team.
Yvan Cournoyer (fourth from left) and Frank Mahovlich (second from right) were part of the 1971 Montreal Canadiens. Cournoyer was also on the 1966 team. / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

In the history of the Stanley Cup Finals, only five teams have rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win the title. The Edmonton Oilers will try to become the sixth as they return home for Game 3 of the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals against the Florida Panthers.

The five teams are the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1966 Montreal Canadiens, the 1971 Montreal Canadiens, the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, and the 2011 Boston Bruins. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs had an impressive showing, as they were in a 0-3 hole before getting the "reverse sweep" against the Detroit Red Wings. The 2009 Penguins almost did it all for naught, as they lost 5-0 in Game 5 after tying the series, but won Games 6 and 7 to get Sidney Crosby his first Stanley Cup. Canadiens fans wish to forget the 2011 playoffs, but the Bruins outscored the Canucks 21-3 to win four of the remaining six games.

Let's look at the two Canadiens teams that achieved the historic feat.

1966 Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens ran away with the 1965-66 season, beating the Blackhawks by eight points in the standings. The Canadiens went 41-21-8 with a +66 goal differential. They made short work of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the semifinals, outscoring them 15-6 for the four-game sweep. On the other side of the bracket, the fourth-place Red Wings upset the Blackhawks in six games thanks to goaltender Roger Crozier.

Crozier helped the Red Wings win the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, but an injury in Game 4 spelled the end for Detroit. The Canadiens won four consecutive games to win the Stanley Cup, including a 3-2 overtime win on a goal by Henri Richard. It was Richard and head coach Toe Blake's seventh Stanley Cup victory in 11 years. Crozier became the first player in league history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs on the losing team. Other notable names on that 1966 team were captain Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, Dick Duff, and Gump Worsley.

1971 Montreal Canadiens

The 1971 season was a special one for the Montreal Canadiens. It was the year that Ken Dryden debuted for the Habs and led them on a magical run to a Stanley Cup and his Conn Smythe Trophy. However, many may not realize that the Habs were down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final to the Blackhawks. It was the first year the league allowed cross-over between divisions, leading to the first Original Six finals since 1967.

The Canadiens dethroned the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins in the first round, before taking on the Minnesota North Stars in the second round. The Canadiens had an easier time with the North Stars, completing the job in six games.

The Blackhawks won the first two games at home, but the Canadiens were determined to win Jean Beliveau his tenth Stanley Cup. The 1971 finals would end up being Beliveau's last finals series, which inspired the Canadiens to win Games 3 and 4 at home. The Blackhawks won their third home game of the series to take a 3-2 lead, but the Canadiens won back-to-back games to take the series, becoming only the second team in NHL history to a game seven Cup-clinching game on the road.

Peter and Frank Mahovlich starred for the Canadiens, combining for nine goals over the seven games. It wasn't easy for the Canadiens, as head coach Al MacNeil was ripped in the media by Henri Richard after Game 5. The Canadiens needed to assign bodyguards to MacNeil for the final home game, and the Stanley Cup victory wasn't enough to save his job. Legendary coach Scotty Bowman took over for MacNeil after the season.