"Ed Belfour just stood on his head," remarked Devils coach Larry Robinson when it was all said and done.
The glory days of the Dallas Stars are riddled with such vexations by opposing coaches. They'd need all 48 saves from the Eagle in this one as the Stars hoped to stay alive against a Devils club that had virtually dominated them to this point, leading the series three games to one.
In 106 minutes of the most intense playoff hockey we've ever seen, officials Marouelli and Koharski would award just five power plays. The teams were left to decide this on their own, and it took three over time periods to do it before an old combination staved off elimination and sent the series back to Dallas...
Modano, from Hull and Lehtinen. Those were the days.
1-0 Stars win. 89 combined shots produced the lone goal.
"I don't think I've seen anything better since I've been coaching in the league, two guys going at it like that," said Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock. "I felt like we were just going to have to take a timeout and play next week or something, because I didn't think anybody was going to score. There were a lot of quality chances on both sides. I think the determination level of those two guys was incredible."
Continued after the jump...
Hitchcock has been outspoken over the years about his club's run in 2000. Recently at the Dallas Stars alumni game prior to the 2011-2012 regular season he remarked that in retrospect he's perhaps more proud of that team's effort than the one before it that won the Stanley Cup.
It's his opinion that the 2000 version of the Stars was so worn and so tired, that for them to make it as far as they did, nearly repeating, was their greatest accomplishment as far as effort and heart go.
Bill Clement on this one, from a very old version of ESPN.com...
Martin Brodeur was better than incredible. Eddie Belfour was incredible. The Stars got stronger that last two overtime periods. I was very surprised at that. The Devils stopped dumping the puck in, and they were rushing everything. Dallas just kept breaking up the play and coming back. The Stars kept dumping the puck in and wearing them down. You could see that when Dallas had the puck deep down in New Jersey's zone, as the overtimes went on, they had more time and space to do what they wanted. That is why they were the more threatening of the two teams.
I may be misremembering, but there was hope after this one in a big way, despite the lessons history taught about being down 3-1 and trying to win a game seven on the road. The questions were being asked... "Can they really repeat? Is it happening?"
Those are heady questions for the best of a franchise's times. Lest we forget, though, history has generally painted this run as inferior to the previous two in 1998 and 1999. The Stars were out of gas, hurting, and lucky to be where they were owing to their goaltender. It was the last gasp for a core that would start to break apart after losing the impending game six.
Still, that they made it that far with as little goal scoring as they had, as gassed as they were...it was remarkable. It's a reminder, in these dark times, of how good we all had it back then.
The expectation was greatness. It was the standard.
Arnott's goal late at night in game six would prove to be one of the all-time groin kicks to this franchise, it's true, but this series was important, in retrospect, to solidifying the Stars legacy as a dominant force in the late nineties. They laid the foundation, even in loss, for the expectations and dreams of big things that most of us carry with us even to this day.
It's just another classic multi-overtime experience in our countdown: Battles that have become legendary with the passing of time.