The Dallas Stars were pushed to the brink by game four and five wins by the Colorado Avalanche, and needed the effort of their playoff year to get to a game seven back at home.
Gary Thorne: "...The Dallas Stars, the best team in the NHL for the last two years, who can't believe they're not going to go to The Finals."
Bill Clement: "There's still a chance."
Those words, spoken in the opening moments of this highlight reel and to houses all over North America that night in 1999 summarized our feelings quite well. The Stars had been pushed to the brink of elimination after storming through the Oilers and Blues, and now appeared to be headed toward upset and more soul searching facing an elimination game six on the road.
That wasn't the story, as you well know. And so it finds it's way to number three on our countdown.
The Stars found themselves down 1-0 due to a goal in the final minute of the first period. Those are killers. Absolute killers, yet the Stars wouldn't let it become one. Jere Lehtinen, Jamie Langenbrunner (2x) and Richard Matvichuk would find the back of the net for Dallas as Ed Belfour stood on his head, and got a little help from his friends (the posts) in this one.
Describing it is completely inadequate. The highlights simply must be watched:
A few observations, just for fun...
- There's a big Zima ad in the Avs building here. Come on.
- Claude Lemieux was good at what he did. He was Steve Ott before Steve Ott was Steve Ott, and then some. He was nastier. He also stepped over the line in bad spots, like elbowing Ed Belfour in the head in the waning minutes of a one-goal game, costing his team, effectively, a chance at a trip to the Finals.
- Ed Belfour was also good at...milking certain situations, shall we say.
- Mike Modano can be seen, in many of these replays, back-checking his you know what off in his own end. Enough said.
- Peter Forsberg's temper is sometimes forgotten among memories of his strong skating and offensive prowess, but he fell apart a bit in this one. It's fun to watch.
- Gary Thorne and Bill Clement get a certain amount of praise from Stars fans because of the era in which Dallas won their cup, but it's hard to watch these highlights and not get sucked in all over again. Ralph and Razor stand alone, but Gary and Bill are the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to national guys. Head and shoulders above anyone on any nationally televized network in either country now.
- The goal-tending in this one, as in so many in 1999 and 2000, was epic. Patrick Roy stands in a class above most others for a large number of reasons, but not unlike Tim Duncan of the NBA, his complaining was as epic as his many clutch performances. It's all over this highlight reel, as I'm sure you well remember.
- I can only imagine how much Jamie Langenbrunner must have infuriated so many players and fans alike back then. We see it all the time across so many sports these days: That young, brash kid who is just so good and they don't play for your team. It's completely maddening. Knowing he was on our side, infuriating the remainder of the conference makes me feel good. Trade or no trade.
- Richard Matvichuk beating Patrick Roy in a playoff game. That's just got to make you smile.
- A 2-1 lead in the third period. Is there anything more classic than that? They didn't just nurse this one home, like so many others, but it still fits what we all remember. Get a lead. Shut it down. There was no one better at it.