Much to the surprise of most experts, the battle between the New York Rangers, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and the eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators will go the distance, with Game 7 is scheduled for Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Senators have reached Game 7 by playing a style remarkably similar to the Rangers, and, at times, doing better than their heavily-favored opponents.
But here are five reasons why the Rangers will emerge victorious in the seventh and deciding game and move on to the second round of the 2012 NHL playoffs.
The Rangers have home-ice advantage for this deciding game.
The crowd at Madison Square Garden is always loud and the atmosphere is electric. The crowd will be so loud before the game even begins that it will be almost impossible to hear the national anthem.
Even further, this will mark the first Game 7 of any sport at Madison Square Garden in 17 years.
New York finished with a 27-12-2 record at home, the second best home record in the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa had a solid road record (sixth best in the conference), but it's not as strong as the Rangers' home mark. This will give the Rangers an edge.
Since 2000, No. 8 seeds are 5-17 against top seeds in the opening round of the playoffs, a winning percentage of just .227.
Upsets do happen, but in most cases, the top seed is ahead of the eighth seed in the standings for a reason, and they find a way to emerge victorious.
The main reason the Rangers won the Eastern Conference was their strong work ethic, their willingness to block shots and play team defense, and the overall excellence of Henrik Lundqvist.
Lundqvist is almost certain to be a Vezina Trophy finalist, and will get some Hart Trophy votes as league MVP as well.
The Rangers have not been a great goal-scoring team all season long, but Lundqvist's outstanding play has kept them in nearly every game they played this year.
Through the first six games of the series, Ottawa's Craig Anderson has matched the Rangers star statistically and outplayed him in several games.
But the longer the series goes, the more likely the better player rises to the top. And make no mistake about it, Lundqvist is a better goalie than Anderson. This gives the Rangers an edge at the most important position on the ice.
The Rangers have three players on their roster who have won the Stanley Cup, while the Senators have only one.
Brad Richards, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mike Rupp are the Rangers' winners, along with head coach John Tortorella. Sergei Gonchar is the lone winner on the Ottawa roster.
Richards actually won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP with the Lightning in 2004, and Fedotenko had a very strong playoff that year as well. The Devils won the cup in Rupp's rookie year, while Gonchar won with the Penguins.
In a clutch situation like a Game 7, the leadership of these players who have been there before and climbed the sport's highest mountain can make all the difference.
The Senators have made adjustments, but it's the Rangers who have played a playoff style of hockey all season long.
The Rangers have a lot of 2-1 and 3-2 wins under their belt. They played defense first, blocked a lot of shots, and relied on their strong goaltending to win games.
Ottawa's style throughout the season was more offensive-minded, and they had to adjust once the postseason began.
When push comes to shove, the Rangers will be a little more comfortable playing playoff-style hockey.
It may not be by much, but the signs point to a Rangers victory in Game 7 Thursday night.