The Stanley Cup favorite Tampa Bay Lightning are on the verge of one of the worst implosions in pro sports history.
The Lightning tied an NHL record with 62 regular-season wins and they may not win a single playoff game.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, who finished 30 points behind the Lightning, beat them 3-1 Sunday to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal. The Blue Jackets can finish a sweep of the Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, CNBC).
How unlikely is this? The Lightning were the NHL’s top scoring team, boasted the league’s best power play and penalty kill and had defeated the Blue Jackets three times in the regular season by a cumulative 17-3 score.
Columbus also entered this postseason having never won a playoff series in the franchise’s 18-season existence.
If the Lightning lose Tuesday, this will be like the Green Bay Packers going 15-1 in 2011 and then losing by 17 points to the New York Giants in their first playoff game. Or, the 1990-91 Minnesota North Stars, which went just 27-39-14, beating the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round. Or, the 42-40 Golden State Warriors’ upset over the 67-win Dallas Mavericks in 2007.