The 2018 Eastern Conference Final between the Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning will be decided in a winner-take-all final game on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena. The winner will receive the Prince of Wales Trophy and move on to the Stanley Cup Final for a shot against the Vegas Golden Knights, who everybody (read: nobody) predicted would be here at season's end.
The NHL has reconfigured and re-aligned a few times in its 100 year history. The playoffs morphed into the conference-based format we see today before the 1981-82 season, and those conferences were rebranded the Eastern and Western Conferences before the season in 1993-94. This 2018 series between Tampa Bay and Washington marks the 16th time that a conference finals series has gone the distance. It's also the fifth straight year at least one conference final has featured a seventh game, and the fourth consecutive time the Eastern Conference Final has gone the distance.
Of the previous 15 teams to emerge from their conference finals in seven games, 12 have gone on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Golden Knights have only lost three games in this year's postseason and just took down the Jets in just five games, so the Bolts and the Caps already know they'd be in for a tall order if they pull it out in Game 7.
Ahead of the third Game 7 of the 2018 playoffs, let's take a look at the recent history of conference finals winner-take-all decisions: (* denotes winning team went on to win the Cup)
2017 ECF: Penguins defeat Senators *
2016 ECF: Penguins defeat Lightning *
2015 ECF: Lightning defeat Rangers
2015 WCF: Blackhawks defeat Ducks *
2014 WCF: Kings defeat Blackhawks *
2011 ECF: Bruins defeat Lightning *
2006 ECF: Hurricanes defeat Sabres *
2004 ECF: Lightning defeat Flyers *
2003 ECF: Devils defeat Senators *
2002 WCF: Red Wings defeat Avalanche *
2000 ECF: Devils defeat Flyers *
2000 WCF: Stars defeat Avalanche
1999 WCF: Stars defeat Avalanche *
1996 ECF: Panthers defeat Penguins
1994 ECF: Rangers defeat Devils *