In most sports, it’s fairly common to have an outstanding individual performance be nothing more than a silver lining in defeat.
There have been seven 50-point games in the NBA this season, and three of those have come in losses, including Stephen Curry’s 57-point night in Dallas and Bradley Beal’s 60-piece in Philadelphia. At least Curry and Golden State got the win when the two-time MVP scored 62 against the Trail Blazers in January.
Jacob deGrom struck out 14 batters twice last season. He took the loss in one game and got a no-decision in the other, a Mets win. In the two previous seasons, a pitcher striking out 15 or more resulted in a 7-4 record for the teams getting such ace-level performance — the various pitchers involved combined for a 1.43 ERA in those outings.
The 33 times this past season that an NFL team had a 150-yard receiver, they combined to go 17-16, including the Seahawks losing at Arizona in Week 7 despite Tyler Lockett racking up 200 yards through the air with three touchdown receptions.
In hockey? Chris Kreider notched this season’s 14th hat trick on Wednesday night, but the Rangers lost in Philadelphia, 4-3. It’s the fourth time this season that a hat trick didn’t result in victory, but Jonathan Huberdeau’s hattie came in an overtime defeat, while Max Pacioretty and Tyler Toffoli each potted three goals in shootout losses.
Kreider’s hat trick was the first in the NHL in a regulation loss since January 14 of last year, when Blake Coleman scored three for the Devils in a 7-4 loss at Toronto. But it goes even further than that.
The goals Kreider scored were all the Rangers put on the board against the Flyers. The last time a hat trick accounted for all of a team’s scoring in a regulation loss was Dec.12, 2018, in Chicago, when Bryan Rust’s tally with 57 seconds left in the second period brought the Penguins even at 3-3… before Chicago got goals from Marcus Kruger, Jonathan Toews, and Brandon Saad in the final stanza.
Sidney Crosby’s hat trick two weeks before Rust’s played out similarly — his third goal was an equalizer 4:43 into the third period in Colorado before Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Carl Soderberg made it a 6-3 final for the Avalanche.
But to really match Kreider, it’s not just about being the only person on a team who managed to score, but the team having been close enough that if anyone else had done anything, they could have gotten a point: a hat trick in a one-goal regulation loss. The last time that happened? Dec.10, 2015, when Rasmus Ristolainen singlehandedly brought the Sabres back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to forge a 3-3 tie before Johnny Gaudreau reclaimed the lead, and the win, for the Flames just 55 seconds after Ristolainen’s third.
If you really want to ensure success in the NHL, you’ve got to score five goals. In the last 40 years, according to Stathead, teams have won 25 of the 26 games in which a player tallied five. The one exception? Alex Zhamnov scoring five for the Winnipeg Jets in Los Angeles, in a 7-7 tie on April Fools Day in 1995.
There still is a bright side here for the Rangers: at 6-8-3, they own the sixth-worst record in the league, putting them on course to once again enrage the Senators and Red Wings by winning the draft lottery.