What percentage of teams that win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final win the series?

Winning every game in the Stanley Cup Final is crucial for bringing home the most coveted prize in sports. How important is winning the first?
2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five
2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Winning the first game of the Stanley Cup Final is crucial to becoming the world champions of hockey. It builds momentum toward the next game and gets fans thinking about a future title. Last season, the Vegas Golden Knights dominated in the first game against the Florida Panthers, 5-2. The result? A 4-1 bludgeoning, with the Panthers soundly defeated in the series.

Of course, winning the first game isn't just crucial in the NHL. It's important in other sports with a series format to them, whether it's basketball or baseball. Ask the Boston Celtics how crucial it was to blow out the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night, 107-89. It helps them to set the tone for the rest of the series, specifically for a Celtics team that's struggled with dominating presumably weaker competition.

But enough about the NBA since this is a hockey website. Golden Knights fans aren't here to read about the NBA Finals. NHL fans care about the percentage of teams that won the Stanley Cup after winning the first game. This is the Stanley Cup playoffs with the most prestigious prize in sports up for grabs.

Such curiosity comes with the Florida Panthers, the Eastern Conference champions, facing the champions of the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers. How important is it for both teams to steal the first game? How often do teams that win the first take the title?

Game 1 winners have won the Stanley Cup Final 75.6% of the time, as of last year

As of last year, teams that have won the first game of the Stanley Cup Final have won it all 75.6% of the time. Last season, the Vegas Golden Knights dominated the Florida Panthers in the opening game, 5-2, and never looked back. Plenty of factors in that game led to a victory, including the big Adin Hill save and a balanced offensive attack.

The home team wins the series 83.1% with a victory in the opening match, while the road team wins the Stanley Cup 56.5% of the time. It makes the Stanley Cup playoffs much more compelling, for fans don't know the drama that will unfold.

The Golden Knights have also been on the losing end of this phenomenon in 2017-18. They defeated the Washington Capitals in the opening game that year, 6-4, only to lose the next four. Tomas Nosek scored two goals in the first game, while Colin Miller had the first Stanley Cup Final goal in franchise history for Vegas.

Getting off on the right foot is an understatement in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It gives the winning team momentum down the stretch, leaving the opposing loser scrambling for answers. While the Vegas Golden Knights weren't successful in building off that momentum this year, they can win another title next season with a better team... and take the first game.