Controversy in the crease headlines Stars' all-time playoff moments
What is it about the Dallas Stars and incredibly long playoff games? Amazingly, Dallas has been involved in five of the 20 longest playoff games in league history. This season's quadruple-overtime thriller against the Sharks should have been expected. We dig into the history books and go all the way back to the franchise's roots in Minnesota to examine the most memorable playoff games in Stars/North Stars history.
10. April 29, 1997: Game 7, Western Conference quarterfinals vs. Edmonton (4-3 loss in OT)
In what was one of the fastest and most entertaining playoff series of the decade, it was only fitting a Game 7 was needed to determine a winner. The No. 2 seed Stars, arguably the best team in the NHL, had fought tooth and nail in Game 6 to eke out a 3-2 win and force a Game 7 on home ice. Dallas carried the play throughout Game 7, but Curtis Joseph was unbelievable, making one save after another. Cujo had already shut out the Stars twice in the series but saved his best for the final game. In overtime, swarming Joe Nieuwendyk had a wide-open net off a rebound, but Joseph dived across and made an all-time great glove save to continue the game and the series. Off the next faceoff Todd Marchant turned on the jets at center ice, raced past Grant Ledyard, who had slipped, and then beat Andy Moog for the game- and series-winner. At the time, this was arguably the most unexpected and disappointing loss in Stars franchise history.
9. April 16, 1968: Game 7, Quarterfinals vs. Los Angeles (4-3 series win)
In the first year of the expansion era, the Minnesota North Stars were one of six new teams to join the Original Six and form a 12-team NHL. That spring, the North Stars played in their first playoff series against another expansion cousin -- the Los Angeles Kings. The North Stars lost the first two games in L.A. before winning the next two on home ice. After losing Game 5 in L.A. and facing elimination, Minnesota needed an overtime goal by Milan Marcetta in Game 6 to force a Game 7. The North Stars were the clear underdogs, returning to Los Angeles where they had already lost three times, scoring just three goals total. But the North Stars would light up the scoreboard, beating Kings goalies Terry Sawchuk and Wayne Rutledge nine times for a 9-4 win. The North Stars won their first playoff series in dramatic fashion.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Chuck StoodyMarty Turco stopped 51 shots during an April 11, 2007 playoff game versus the Canucks, but it wasn't enough as the Stars lost in four overtimes.
8. April 11, 2007: Game 1, Western Conference quarterfinals vs. Vancouver (5-4 loss in fourth OT)
The sixth-longest game in NHL playoff history had a bitter finish for the Stars. Much like a decade earlier, when a young Joseph gave Dallas shooters fits, Roberto Luongo -- making his playoff debut -- couldn't be beaten in overtime. Luongo made an incredible 72 saves, including many spectacular ones during overtime. Marty Turco was equally solid for the Stars until the Sedin twins got to him. Henrik scored the game-winner on a pass from his brother Daniel 18 minutes into the fourth overtime. Another heartbreaking overtime loss for Dallas. The Stars lost the series in seven games.
7. May 27, 2000: Game 7, Western Conference finals vs. Colorado (3-2 win)
For the second straight year the Stars and Avalanche met in the Western Conference finals and for the second straight year a seventh and deciding game was needed to determine a winner. Once again, in the final game, the Stars' suffocating defense kept the likes of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg in check. Eddie Belfour made 31 saves and got some help from the Stars special teams. Sergei Zubov and Mike Modano both scored power-play goals as Dallas took a 3-0 lead midway through the third period. The Avalanche scored twice on the attack to make it a 3-2 game and then in the final minute Ray Bourque (still in search of that elusive Stanley Cup) rang a shot past Belfour but off the post as the Stars advanced to the Stanley Cup finals for a second straight year.
6. April 27, 1980: Quarterfinals vs. Montreal (4-3 series win)
This North Stars team was one of the youngest in the NHL with only one player older than 30 (Paul Shmyr, 33). Led by Al MacAdam, Steve Payne and Bobby Smith, Minnesota finished the season above .500 for the first time in seven years. After eliminating the Maple Leafs in a three-game sweep in the first round, the Montreal Canadiens -- winners of four straight Stanley Cups -- were next up. Montreal finished third overall in the NHL standings and boasted a lineup that included two 50-goal scorers in Guy Lafleur and Pierre Larouche, along with future Hall of Famers Steve Shutt, Larry Robinson and Bob Gainey -- all still in their 20s. Undaunted, the Stars won the first two games in Montreal. The Habs stormed back, winning the next three games, outscoring a shell-shocked Minnesota 16-3. In Game 6 at home, the Stars would win 5-2 to force a Game 7. Montreal was the heavy favorite. Everything pointed to a Canadiens win -- they were the higher seed, at home and far more experienced, having won 13 straight playoff series. But the Stars would not be denied: Goalie Gilles Meloche withstood incredible pressure and the Stars pulled off the shocking upset, beating Montreal 3-2 to win the series and end the Canadiens' dynasty.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/David ZalubowskiLed by Ed Belfour, the Stars allowed less than two goals per game en route to their 1999 Stanley Cup championship.
T-5. June 1, 1999: Game 6, Western Conference finals vs. Colorado (4-1 win)
With their season on the line and facing Patrick Roy on the road, the Stars put together one of the best playoff games in franchise history. Claude Lemieux opened the scoring for Colorado, beating Belfour in the final minute of the first period. From that point on Dallas dominated. Jere Lehtinen tied it up early in the second period, and then in the third Jamie Langenbrunner scored twice to seal the 4-1 win. Belfour made 26 saves in the win as the Stars exercised their previous playoff demons. In Game 7 at home, Dallas again dominated, winning by the same 4-1 score, advancing to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1991.
T-5. June 10, 2000: Game 6, Stanley Cup finals vs. New Jersey (2-1 loss in second OT)
In 1999, Dallas won a Stanley Cup in an overtime thriller. One year later, the Stars found themselves on the wrong end of an overtime Cup-winning goal. Eight minutes into the second overtime period, Jason Arnott, driving to the net, beat a sprawling Belfour to give the Devils their second Stanley Cup. Arnott becomes the 15th and last player to score a Cup-winning overtime goal. The loss came less than 48 hours after Modano had scored in triple overtime to give the Stars a 1-0 win in Game 5 and send the series back to Dallas.
4. April 24, 2003: Game 1 Western Conference semifinals vs. Anaheim (4-3 loss in fifth OT)
In one of the NHL's all-time epic playoff battles, the Stars and Ducks battled at the American Airlines Arena into the wee hours of the morning, until Petr Sykora finally ended the game less than a minute into the fifth overtime by beating Turco stick side on a pass from Adam Oates. The game lasted nearly six hours, finishing as the fourth-longest game in NHL playoff history, 11 minutes longer than this year's thriller against San Jose. The Stars dodged a bullet, temporarily, in the third overtime when an apparent goal by the Ducks' Steve Thomas was disallowed because the Stars' net was loose. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, eventual playoff MVP, was amazing in this game, making 60 saves, 40 in overtime. Turco was equally good, finishing with 50 saves, including an acrobatic highlight-reel stop in the second overtime off a Paul Kariya shot. Stars defenseman Zubov logged a game-high 63:51 seconds of ice time. Reportedly, he lost eight pounds during the eight-period marathon.
3. April 22, 1984 Game 7, Norris Division finals vs. St. Louis (4-3 win in OT)
One of the greatest playoff wins in Stars history came in 1984 in a seventh game of the second round. A team led by young stars Neal Broten, Brian Bellows and Dino Ciccerelli had already eliminated the Blackhawks 3-2 in a best-of-five series. Against the Blues, the Stars were counting on their team depth and the importance of home ice. By Game 7, St. Louis was focused on shutting down Bellows and Broten, so when the game went to overtime, it was Steve Payne who stepped up to be the hero just six minutes in. Payne's third career overtime goal made a winner out of Stars goalie Don Beaupre, who was brilliant throughout the playoffs in net. The win sent the Stars to the conference finals, where they were swept by Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Kevin FrayerTo this date, it's one of the most controversial goals in history, but regardless of whether his foot was in the crease, Brett Hull and the Stars won the game and the '99 Stanley Cup.
2. May 4, 2008: Game 6 Western Conference semifinals vs. San Jose (2-1 Win in fourth OT)
After leading the series three games to none, the Stars -- in overtime of Game 6 -- were facing what could have been a historical Game 7 back in San Jose. Luckily, Dallas made its own history by winning the sixth-longest overtime game ever. Conn Smyth candidate Brenden Morrow scored the game-winner on the power play, beating Evgeni Nabokov nine minutes into the fourth overtime. Turco, who had been unfairly characterized as a "weak" playoff goalie by some, answered his detractors by making a franchise-record 61 saves for the victory. Nabokov, despite the loss, made one of the all-time great playoff saves, stopping Brad Richards on a one-timer with his glove less than two minutes into the first overtime period. The win thrust the Stars into the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2000.
1. June 19, 1999: Game 6, Stanley Cup finals vs. Buffalo (2-1 win in third OT)
This game will always be remembered for its controversial finish and the fact it brought Dallas its first and only Stanley Cup championship. The second-longest game in Stanley Cup finals history and the 18th-longest playoff game ever ended nearly 15 minutes into the third overtime period when Brett Hull, on a rebound, beat Dominik Hasek for the Cup clincher. Hull scored the winner with his left skate in the crease, but the league ruled Hull had possession of the puck and was entitled to be in the crease on the play. An incensed Sabres team was in disbelief that the goal counted and waited for 20 minutes in their dressing room expecting the goal to be overturned. An exhausted Stars team celebrated the championship while the fans in Buffalo protested the loss.
The controversial ending overshadowed what was a dramatic back-and-forth game featuring two future Hall of Fame goaltenders, Belfour and Hasek, who combined to make 101 saves. The two goalies allowed just 22 goals in the series -- the lowest scoring six-game total in NHL finals history. For Hull, who played much of the series with both a knee and groin injury, the win was especially sweet as he joined his father Bobby as a Stanley Cup winner. Modano led the Stars with 23 points in the postseason, while Nieuwendyk was named playoff MVP.
ESPN reporter David Amber is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.
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