April 21st 2007 — The Stars were returning home for Game 6, and this wasn’t all good news. The friendly confines of the AAC had been, ah, slightly less than that for the last few postseasons. Combined with Turco’s own playoff demons, the Stars had no choice but to even the series with their fair share of baggage.
The Stars hadn't won a home playoff game since Game 3 of their first-round series against Colorado in 2004. That was also their last overtime playoff victory until Morrow scored 6:22 into extra period of Game 5 for a 1-0 victory that extended the series -- and ended a six-game skid in OT games.
So, yeah. Not exactly a great montage of playoff highlights over the last few years, is what we’re saying, particularly for a team that was trying to come back from a 3-1 deficit.
Still, the Stars entered game six with their heads held high—though Mike Modano, proud as he was, still couldn’t help but begin to tug at his collar just a bit, having failed to score in the first five games of the series. That, of course, was something that even Roberto Luongo would only be able to maintain for so long, and it didn’t take more than a few minutes for Mo to get on the board.
One thing you may not remember is that Sergei Zubov left this game halfway through (as Phillipe Boucher’s team-leading 25 minutes of ice time clearly attest). He would not be able to go for game seven, which meant that the venerable Jon Klemm would be asked to do his best Zubov impression in a winner-take-all game seven. Would you like to guess how that went.
Penalties, too. This series was rife with them, and this game was no different, with Dallas ending up with a 6-3 edge in power plays. But even in the first period, things were crazy. The Canucks took four penalties in the opening frame, and unfortunately for them, their second penalty was one of those “gotta call it” high sticks when they were already down a man. Thus, Dallas would receive yet another two-man advantage in this series. And, unlike before, they would finally cash in:
Dallas had a longer two-man advantage in the second period of Game 4, but went 1:55 without scoring in that 2-1 loss. In the series opener Vancouver won late in the fourth overtime, the Stars couldn't end the game during a 5-on-3 power play for 39 seconds early in the second OT.
With Luongo screened by Jere Lehtinen in front of the net, Modano -- whose 507 goals in the regular season are the most for a U.S.-born player -- took a pass from Sergei Zubov and shot from the slot between the circles. The puck dinged the right post and went into the net.
Not that it wasn’t touch-and-go before the goal, of course. These were still the Stars, you know. Just getting the puck past Luongo wasn’t enough. There was also the mud pit for the puck to slog through once it did get past him:
Only seconds earlier after Dallas got the two-man advantage, Luongo denied Modano on a shot that almost went in. The puck was between the goal line and the goalie, who was on his backside, when Luongo reached back with his left arm and swiped the puck under him.
Dallas, from there, would keep the Canucks contained, if not silent. Turco would make 32 saves, which was impressive and mystifying for the Stars, since they were apparently the only team on the ice this night:
"If it weren't for Roberto, it would have been 7-0. It was not a good game on our part to say the least," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "As far as I'm concerned there was one team on the ice. It was the Dallas Stars.
(And yet, Vigneault would go on to spurn the Stars in 2013 and take the coaching job in New York. It’s like the man just plumb forgot, I tell you!)
To this point, the hatred had been sown, and these teams were beginning to reap it. But as if Zubov’s absence wasn’t enough to leave a bitter taste in the victorious team’s mouth, Alex Burrows decided to go Full Burrows on Brenden Morrow, slashing his knee from behind just because that’s what you do when you’re Alex Burrows, which is a Super Tough Pro Playoff Hockey Move, I am told.
As the writers would tell it (in a belabored attempt at objectivity after the fact):
Morrow hopped and skated off — putting no pressure on his left foot — with 2:20 left in the game. Before getting off the ice, Morrow stopped in front of the Vancouver bench and threw a punch at Alexandre Burrows, who appeared to slash the Stars captain's left leg only seconds earlier.
This clip is so perfect, though, for showing who and what Brenden Morrow was becoming (or, in truth, had already become). He was the heartbeat of this team, and a little thing like bodily agony wasn’t going to stop him from standing up to a little rat puke move, even if he had to hobble his way to the bench. This, right here, was the Playoff Quality Hockey moment of the series. The Stars might not have walked away from the 2007 season with anything but a fun All Star Game hosting experience to show for it, but Brenden Morrow showed them that walking wasn’t even necessary for a real leader. Standing up for himself and his team, Morrow would go on to score two more OT goals in the following spring’s playoffs, and you know what that series did to embed his legacy in the hearts of everyone around this team.
Still, if you’re going to summarize the series, you can’t do so without talking about the goalies. Again, there are “goalie duels,” and there are Goalie Duels. This series, through six games, would end up being quite decisively the latter:
In this series, Turco has stopped 190 of 199 shots (.955 save percentage). That's still only slightly better than playoff first-timer Luongo at .950 (209-of-220).
The next game’s score would not appear to have been that of a goalie duel, but trust me--it lived up to this series. Or at least, it tried to. But we’ll save our decades-old sour grapes for one last fine glass of wine. Game seven awaits.