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The Globe and Mail

By the numbers: How important is winning Game 1?

Boston Bruins Chris Kelly (L) celebrates with teammate Brian Rolston after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-final hockey playoff series in Boston, Massachusetts April 12, 2012.


Seven Game 1s are all in the books, with an incredible four overtime games and no blowouts so far.

In fact, no team has won a game by more than two goals, and only one team has won by two without aid of an empty netter (the Rangers).

And Game 1 can be a big one.

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Tapping into the great database of seven game series they have at, we can see that the team that wins Game 1 of a series in the NHL goes on to have a 393-183 record in that series - which is a .682 winning percentage.

There's a big difference between winning Game 1 as the home team and winning it on the road, however.

For one, the team that starts the series at home is, historically, always the favourite. For another, they've still got three more games at home to play in the rest of the series (if it goes seven games).

Here's a look at how valuable a Game 1 win has been in the past by separating the teams into home and road:

Winning Game 1 at home Nashville, NY Rangers, Boston, Phoenix

Teams have a huge margin of series wins when they win Game 1 at home: 284-89 all-time (.761 win percentage). And their record in Game 2 is stellar, too, with a 242-131 (.649) margin of going up 2-0.

A home team being up 2-0 in a series has only lost that series 10 per cent of the time.

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Winning Game 1 on the road Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Jose

These teams still have historically done well in the series, but their record isn't nearly impressive. They are, after all, still underdogs.

Teams that have won Game 1 on the road have a 109-94 (.537) record in the series. They generally lose Game 2, however, about two thirds of the time: 74-129 (.365).

But when road teams do manage to win the first two games on the road, they have gone on to win the series more than 75 per cent of the time: 56-18 (.757).

So that likely makes Game 2 huge in those three series.

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