10 Best Dallas Stars Playoff Runs in Franchise History

During the 2022-23 season, the Dallas Stars celebrated their 55th season in the NHL, wrapping up their 29th campaign in Texas after 26 years in the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area. Moreover, the Stars lost in the Western Conference Final this year, finishing their sixth playoff run in the last 15 seasons. 

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Considering the Stars have an extensive history chasing the Stanley Cup, let’s take a trip back in time to relive the best playoff drives.

10. Stars End Legendary Dynasty in Second Round (1980)

By 1980, the North Stars had won two playoff series, adding another to the list that year, sweeping the Toronto Maple Leafs in three games during the Preliminary Round. As fate would have it, once Minnesota eliminated the Original Six franchise, they drew another, the four-time defending Stanley Cup champions, Montreal Canadiens, in the second round.

Although it took seven games, the North Stars ended the Canadiens’ historic reign at the top. After carrying that momentum into the next round against the Philadelphia Flyers, securing a one-goal win in Game 1, they were no match for the Broad Street Bullies, dropping the next four contests. 

Related: Minnesota North Stars/ Dallas Stars with 100-Point Seasons

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Statistically, Al MacAdam, who led the team in scoring during the regular season with 93 points, also was the leading scorer in the playoffs with 16 points. 

9. Stars Advance Because of Inspiring Performance From Veteran (2023)

The Stars won the Central Division on the final day of the regular season, earning the second seed for the 2023 Playoffs. After ousting the Minnesota Wild in the opening round, they drew the league’s most recent expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, in the second round. 

During Game 1, veteran forward Joe Pavelski scored four goals getting his team to overtime, which they lost. By the end of the series, he had set an NHL record for the oldest player to score eight goals in a single playoff round. Even though the 38-year-old has had statistically better postseasons, his ability to return after a significant head injury was inspiring for the team and the fans. 

Eventually, the Stars lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in six games in the Western Conference Final, but Finnish forward Roope Hintz departed as the playoff leading scorer with 24 points. 

8. Expansion Stars Advance to First Semi-Finals (1968)

As one of the newest expansion teams in 1967-68, the North Stars finished with the fourth-best record in the West Division, securing a matchup with the Los Angeles Kings. Surprisingly, the two pushed each other to the limits, with the series going the distance. 

Bill Goldsworthy
Bill Goldsworthy, Minnesota North Stars (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

After their first playoff series win in their first year, the Stars advanced to play the St. Louis Blues in another thrilling seven-game series. Interestingly, the matchup featured four overtimes, with Game 7 going to two additional periods. Statistically, franchise icon Bill Goldsworthy led all playoff skaters with 15 points. 

7. Stars Repeat History in Conference Final (2008)

From 1996-97 to 2007-08, the Stars only missed the playoffs once (2001-02), winning the Stanley Cup in 1999. Furthermore, the team skated four times in the Western Conference Final, bookending this stretch in franchise history with losses to the Detroit Red Wings. Interestingly, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup on both occasions. 

After finishing as the third seed in the Pacific Division, they drew the defending champion Anaheim Ducks in the first round, ending their quest for a repeat in six games. Then, in the second round against the San Jose Sharks, the Stars needed three overtime wins, including a classic seven-period contest in Game 6, to eliminate their second California team that year. 

Despite the Stars’ best efforts against the Red Wings, they lost in six games. Statistically, Mike Ribeiro led the team in scoring with 17 points in 18 games. 

6. Stars Fall to Eventual Champions in Conference Final (1998)

Four seasons after relocating from Minnesota to Texas, the Stars found themselves back in the Western Conference Final for the first time since 1991. After eliminating the Sharks in six games to open the playoffs, the franchise got its revenge on the Edmonton Oilers, defeating the team in five games to make up for a Game 7 loss the previous year. 

Mike Modano Dallas Stars
Mike Modano, Dallas Stars (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

As one of the two teams left in the conference, the Stars matched up with the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings, who used two shutout victories to end Dallas’ season in six games. Eventually, Detroit won the championship, but an intense rivalry for Western Conference supremacy began.

Related: Dallas Stars Have a Strange History With Game Sevens

Statistically, future Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano scored 14 points in 17 games, the only player to reach double digits. 

5. Stars Advance to Stanley Cup Final in The Bubble (2020)

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world in early 2020, the Stars collected 82 points when the regular season unceremoniously ended in March. Ultimately, the NHL decided that teams would play a round-robin tournament to determine seedings, with the Stars going 1-2. 

Eventually, the franchise played the Calgary Flames in the first round, winning in six games, before ousting the Colorado Avalanche in seven games to advance to the third round for the first time in 12 years. Surprisingly, the Stars quickly knocked out the Golden Knights in five games to play in the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

Statistically, defenseman Miro Heiskanen led the team in scoring with 26 points. At the same time, netminder Anton Khudobin carried the team on his back, posting a 14-10 record in the best season of his career. 

4. Stars Become Surprise Contenders for Dynasty Team (1981) 

Although gambling wasn’t as mainstream in 1981 as it is today, the odds of the North Stars winning, let alone advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, would have been slim. The team had only 87 points, the fifth-best record in the Prince of Wales Conference, a statistic they shared with the Boston Bruins. 

Interestingly, they swept the Bruins in the Preliminary Round (3-0) before knocking out the Buffalo Sabres in five games. Eventually, the Stars crossed over to play the Flames, using six games to eliminate the Canadian club. Although Minnesota was no match for the defending Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders, they avoided a sweep by winning Game 4, postponing any celebrations until Game 5.

Statistically, the North Stars lost just three games en route to the Final, finishing their lengthy playoff run with a 12-7 record. Meanwhile, Steve Payne scored 29 points in 19 games, exactly half his regular-season total of 58.  

3. Stars Attempt to Win Stanley Cup Before Relocation (1991)

Although the franchise relocated in 1993, the North Stars gave it their all one final time, hoping to bring the Stanley Cup to Minnesota, going on an epic playoff run in 1990-91. As the second-lowest seed in the Clarence Campbell (Western) Conference, they collected eight wins in their first 12 games, eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks and Blues in the first two rounds. 

Brian Bellows
Brian Bellows, Minnesota North Stars (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

In the third round, Minnesota drew the defending champion Oilers, who only won one game in the series despite four future Hall of Famers in the lineup. Unfortunately, the North Stars were no match for Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins, losing in Game 6 by a score of 8-0. Sadly, most of the series highlights revert to Lemieux splitting two Minnesota defensemen en route to scoring one of his most famous highlight reel goals. 

After finishing second in team scoring during the regular season, Brian Bellows led all playoff skaters with 29 points.

2. Stars Defend Their Title Until the Final Buzzer (2000)

In June 1999, the Stars were the toast of the NHL, winning their first championship in a thrilling six-game series against the Sabres. During the following season, they finished as the top team in the Pacific Division, eliminating the Oilers and Sharks in back-to-back five-game series.

Eventually, two Western Conference powerhouse teams met in the third round, with Dallas making it back to the Stanley Cup Final with a win over the Colorado Avalanche. Interestingly, this series only had one overtime game, with the final three contests decided by one goal. 

Ed Belfour Dallas Stars
Ed Belfour, Dallas Stars (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI)

As the Stars prepared to defend their title one last time and become just the third team since 1984 to win back-to-back Stanley Cups, New Jersey Devils’ forward Jason Arnott ended their season in Game 6. Surprisingly, the series’ last two games went to overtime, with Game 5 requiring three extra periods and Game 6 going two more. 

Statistically, the hero of the 1999 playoffs, Brett Hull, led all scorers with 24 points, beating out Modano (23) as the only two players with more than 10 points. 

1. Stars Capture First Stanley Cup Title (1999)

The Stars finished the 1998-99 season as the league’s best team, securing 114 points, one of three teams to crack 100 that year. After sweeping the Oilers in four games, the team struggled to get past the Blues in six games, with each club winning two overtime games. 

Advancing to the Western Conference Final for the second consecutive season, the Stars faced the Avalanche in what soon became the first of two back-to-back meetings. Even though the series went seven games, Dallas found a way to win and make it into the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since relocating. 

Although the Stars beat the Sabres in triple overtime of Game 6, many in the hockey community consider the team’s win tainted. Even though there is constant criticism about the game-winning goal, as per league rules at the time, there’s no denying that the Stars won the Stanley Cup. 

Statistically, Modano finished the year as the team’s leading scorer in the regular season (81) and playoffs (23). However, he lost out on winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, which went to Joe Nieuwendyk. Meanwhile, goalie Ed Belfour played every minute of the 23 games, winning his only championship thanks to a 16-7 record. 

Historical Perspective 

The Stars have played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs 34 times, resulting in a single title thus far in their history. Despite being the champions at the turn of the 21st century, the franchise has advanced to the playoffs 13 times in the past 23 years. As we dig deeper into the numbers, they have won 35 playoff series, advancing out of the first round 19 times, appearing in the conference finals 12 times, and earning five trips to the Stanley Cup Final.

Related: Revisiting the Dallas Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup Run

Although the 2023 season ended a few games shorter than fans had hoped, the Stars remain a serious contender in the Western Conference. Realistically, it shouldn’t be long until this list gets another update with more memorable playoff drives.