Dallas Stars Biggest Game In Franchise History

14 Apr 2001: Brett Hull #16 of the Dallas Stars and Janne Niinimaa #44 of the Edmonton Oilers crash into goalie Tommy Salo during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. The Oilers defeated the Stars 4-3 and tie the series at 1-1. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Ronald Martinez/ALLSPORT

Welcome back to Last Word on Hockey’s summer series where we look at the biggest game in team history. Each day we will be back with a new team to review. Looking at things like the lead-up, what happened, followed, and why it makes it the biggest game. The biggest game does not automatically mean a win, either. Sometimes, it can be a loss that set the franchise back massively. Sit back and enjoy as we break down all 31 Team’s most important game. The full series is found here. This is the Dallas Stars biggest game.

It is arguably the most controversial ending to a championship-clinching game in NHL history. The Dallas Stars held a 3-2 series lead against the Buffalo Sabres in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final. Game Six was played in Buffalo where the home crowd hoped their team would extend the series to seven games. Instead, their season ended on a goal that shouldn’t have counted due to a rule that was changed before another NHL game was played.

Dallas Stars Biggest Game

Crease Rule

The rule surrounding a player’s ability to play in the goaltender’s crease was never as prominent a topic as it was in 1999. The crease was enlarged that season by one foot on either side of the goalposts making the goalie’s crease bigger than it ever had been before. There are no available statistics on just how many goals were disallowed that season due to players being in the crease, but if there were, we would probably see that 1999 set records.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps the feeling that 1999 was the year of the disallowed goal due to players occupying space in the crease is overblown. The final goal of that campaign was scored with a skate clearly in the crease. For many, 1999 is remembered as the year Dallas stole the Stanley Cup from the Buffalo Sabres on a bad goal. There was much more to the Stars’ championship season than that though.

Brett Hull‘s Foot

Brett Hull‘s foot was clearly in the crease for the triple-overtime winner, but there was no call and no video review. The goal counted and the Stars won the 1999 Stanley Cup. People in Buffalo will still tell you that goal should not have counted, but the NHL has a different perspective.

This is what Gary Bettman had to say about it: “The rule was absolutely, correctly applied. It was a non-issue. Everyone understands it was the right call.”

Bryan Lewis, then NHL Director of Officiating, went into more details: “Hull had possession of the puck when his skate entered the crease.”

Whether or not the goal should have counted became somewhat moot the next season when the NHL made a rule change adding this note to the crease ruleCrease rule revised to implement a “no harm, no foul, no video review” standard. While Hull’s foot may have been in the crease, he did not interfere with Dominik Hasek. Had Hull scored that same goal one year later, there would be no debate at all.

Dallas Stars Biggest Game: Overshadowed

The controversial goal overshadows what was a great season for the Stars. Hall of Famer Mike Modano played five seasons with the Minnesota North Stars before moving with the team to Dallas. He played another 16 seasons in Dallas.  The 1999 Stanley Cup win was his only Stanley Cup Championship. Modano played his entire career minus 40 games for the Stars. Game six of the 1999 Stanley Cup Final was the biggest game of his storied career.

Hull spent his time with a few teams, but the 1999 Championship was his first of two Stanley Cups. His second came with the Detroit Red Wings. If you asked Hull, he’d likely say this was the biggest game of his career too.

Both Modano and Hull were instrumental in the Stars’ victory. Hull’s had 15 points in 22 playoff games that year. Modano had 23 points in 23 games. He recorded an assist on the last five goals the Stars scored in the series, including Hull’s overtime winner.

Hall Of Fame

Modano wasn’t the only future Hall of Famer to win his only Stanley cup in 1999. Ed Belfour won his only Cup with him. All told, the Stars have six players from 1999 in the NHL Hall of Fame including Hull, Modano, Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Guy Carbonneau and Sergei Zubov.

This game is known for Hull’s foot being in the crease. It should be remembered as a team full of Hall of Famers playing an excellent game to end an excellent series.

No Sweep!

It took six games for the Stars to beat the Sabres. It was the first time since 1994 the Stanley Cup Champion didn’t sweep their opponent. While the series didn’t go to game seven, it really could have been won by either team. The teams split the games in Dallas and then again in Buffalo to go back to Dallas for game five tied 2-2. Dallas won the final two games, but with Game Six going into triple overtime, Buffalo had their opportunities to tie the series. It was a close series that could have gone either way. While Hull’s goal is what people remember most, this Stanley Cup Final was the most exciting final NHL fans had seen in years.

Not only was the series one to remember (case in point: Nieuwendyk fighting Brian Holzinger), but the final game was also one of the most exciting finishes to a Stanley Cup Final in league history. The Stars were loaded with future Hall of Famers. Both goaltenders were stellar in the final game stopping a combine 101 shots. It was the longest game to end with a Stanley Cup victory. Add all that to the controversy surrounding Hull’s goal and this wasn’t just the biggest game in Stars’ franchise history. It was one of the biggest games in NHL history.

Aftermath

Most of the team returned for the next season. The team captured the Pacific division for the second straight year and returned to the Stanley Cup Final looking to win back to back Stanley Cups. Hull, Modano, and Nieuwendyk were once again instrumental in leading the Stars through the playoffs, but they ultimately fell short losing in six games to the New Jersey Devils.

The Dallas Stars biggest game was almost repeated in Game Five of the 2000 Finals, which they also won in triple overtime, but the bid to come back from a 3-1 deficit was lost when the Devils took game six to win their second Stanley Cup.

The Stars won the Pacific division twice more in the next three years. They have yet to make another Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2000.

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

2 COMMENTS

  1. I feel you always need a group of very good players to win the cup,not 1-3 but a larger group of two lines.
    Dallas has not been able to get there since because they have not filled enough holes with really good players.

    A few years ago,maybe it was 4-5 they had a good season ,their defense was under rated but was solid,well the next year they dismantled that defense and began a string of several bad years.I guess you call that bad management,something that has plagued my fave team the Habs for many years.

    Bad contracts pretty much handcuff any chance you have at a solid team and my habs have done that for years and the Stars did it with Spezza,he was never much of a player for Dallas.

    The Stars are finally on the right track but need a gritty winger to fill the last hole.Their defense is looking good,young and improving,just need more consistency out of Benn who seemed to almost fall off the cliff after his brother was dealt away.

  2. Stephen Jones could be the one who puts the stars of the top if he’s healthy he can make it very big difference being on the right side with Miro.

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