Down 3-1 in the series, Dallas was in a tight spot.
Teams rarely come back from a 3-1 deficit. (Eight percent of the time is what Ron MacLean said back then.) But in a series that had seen Dallas losing all three of their, er, losses by one goal, a comeback didn’t seem out of this world. After all, what’s the great equalizer in the playoffs?
And if ever a goalie put his team on his back in a pinch, this series seems to have been it. Turns out goalies can only carry 19 other players for so long, but hey, it was good while it lasted.
Still, a goalie can only do so much for so long. Eventually, someone needed to score a goal. And, as it turned out, the Stars would also need to score their first overtime playoff goal in, like, five years or something. They would also need to score a power play goal.
You’ll never guess who scored it.
Marty Turco waited more than three years to celebrate in overtime of a playoff game, so he didn't mind missing Thursday night's winning goal too much.
Turco made 21 saves before Brenden Morrow scored a power-play goal 6:22 into overtime to lead the Dallas Stars to a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks, and avoid being knocked out in five games for a third straight playoffs.
"It's been a long time since I've had a playoff hero in the locker room with me," said Turco, who had lost six straight in overtime since the first round of 2004. "I was kind of sad. I didn't really see it go in. You kind of want to see it go in. I just saw it in the air, so I was double-checking with the ref."
Sure enough, the referee was pointing into the net to signal a goal after Morrow cruised through the slot and deflected Sergei Zubov's point shot off Roberto Luongo, then up and over the goaltender and into the net.
As far as how it got to that point, well, an interesting thing happened on the way to a 2-0 the other day.
Sami Salo was called for too many men on the ice after jumping on the ice to break up a two-on-none break and the Stars' power play, which was 2-for-28 in the series, finally clicked.
A series that had been maddening and dirty (and would only get dirtier) was heart-pounding, but finally, the Stars came out on top. But only just barely, as there was another, er, incident. You may recall Ralph Strangis screaming “no!” into the microphone right before...well...:
The Stars came agonizingly close to scoring on their own goal on a delayed penalty against the Canucks 1:37 into the third period. With Turco already off for an extra attacker, Loui Eriksson's pass back to the point missed his teammate and banked toward the empty Dallas net, deflecting off the outside of the post.
"It looked center cut to me sitting on the bench," said Turco. "You just have to close your eyes and pray. It stayed out and right from then, that whole possibility of tonight was our night, and sure enough it was."
It would have been a rather ignominious return to the lineup for Eriksson, but thankfully, it was the Stars’ night after all, and he avoided the infamy that would befall Hudler and Vishnevskiy down the road.
And while no one knew if Eric Lindros was the good luck charm, his first series appearance in favor of Antti Miettinen seemed to bode well. He played nine minutes, and he didn’t really look out of place. Of course, at the time, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed every time Eric Lindros! had the puck for my team and failed to do something remarkable. Time, I was discovering, was a crueler mistress than my nostalgic impulses had yet understood.
This was a Stars team with a changing but steady identity, but the bottom lines were still working themselves out. Thankfully, the team came together in game five, outworking and outshooting Vancouver 30-21. And a sapient shot by Sergei Zubov found Morrow’s stick, and the Stars found the only path possible past Luongo—the parabolic one. Do you remember the feeling you had when that puck deflected perfectly over top of a sprawled Luongo? Were you also half-expecting, even after the puck and gone in, the Canucks’ netminder to find a way to bend time and space to make the save? Maybe that was just I. Maybe it wasn’t.
We’re almost done here, and I’d like to personally thank the twelve people who keep reading these. You are the light that glows in the dusk of distant memories. Let us keep the collective fire burning for this weird, heartbreaking and outstanding series. I’ll see you for game six.