Say the words Game 7 to any sports fans to get their attention. Game 7 in the NHL usually means exciting action as teams fight to survive for at least one more game. For fans of the other 29 NHL teams, they get to watch without any reservations or stress, but that story is different for fans of the teams in the game. The day is filled with agony, waiting to see if their team gets eliminated or wins the series. For fans of the Dallas Stars, their team has been through thick and thin in their history of Game 7s. Heartbreaking defeats and tantalizing victories, here is a collective history of the Stars and their seven Game 7s since their relocation to Dallas and what each means for fans of the team.
#7 Oilers @ #2 Stars: 1997 Western Conference Quarterfinal
The Stars have both exciting wins and agonizing losses in Game 7s. Their first Game 7 was against the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the 1997 Playoffs. The #7 seeded Oilers went to Reunion Arena hoping to come out with an upset victory over the #2 Stars. The Oilers had two other victories in this series in overtime when this game was tied 3-3 after three periods.
Oilers goaltender Curtis Joseph kept his team in the series by stopping 12 Dallas shots in overtime. With the Oilers only getting three shots in overtime up to that point, Todd Marchant received a pass from Doug Weight through the neutral zone and used his speed to get around the Dallas defense.
Marchant ripped a shot past Andy Moog to give the Oilers the series. The Colorado Avalanche eliminated Edmonton in five games during the next round.
#2 Avalanche @ #1 Stars: 1999 Western Conference Final
Two powerhouses in the Colorado Avalanche and Stars met in 1999 with the winner advancing to play the Buffalo Sabres in the Stanley Cup Final. Goals from Jamie Langenbrunner, Jere Lehtinen, and two goals from Mike Keane were all they needed.
The Stars took down the Avalanche in front of a raucous crowd at Reunion Arena, advancing to their first Stanley Cup Final since relocating to Dallas and third in franchise history. This victory became a particular favorite with Stars fans because of what happened next. Dallas defeated Buffalo in six games to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
#3 Avalanche @ #2 Stars: 2000 Western Conference Final
They did it again in 2000. Same series, location, teams, length, and winner. The Stars and Avalanche met in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Final at Reunion Arena with a much closer score than last time. Goals in the first two periods from Sergei Zubov, Mike Modano, and Roman Lyashenko put the Stars 20 minutes away from back-to-back Clarence Campbell Bowls with a 3-0 lead going into the third.
The Avalanche quickly elevated Stars fans’ heart rates with goals from Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk. The 3-2 victory meant two consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances for the Stars. The New Jersey Devils won the Stanley Cup in six games against the Stars.
#6 Stars @ #3 Canucks: 2007 Western Conference Quarterfinal
After a brief recess in Game 7s, seven years later in the first round of 2007, the Vancouver Canucks and Stars held a goaltending duel between Roberto Luongo and Marty Turco. Although the score was 5-4 in Game 1, Luongo made 72 saves in a thrilling four-overtime victory for the Canucks. Vancouver took a 3-1 series lead before two straight victories from the Stars forced Game 7.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, goals from Henrik Sedin, Trevor Linden, Taylor Pyatt, and Bryan Smolinski sealed the deal for the Canucks as they eliminated the Stars 4-1. Turco shut out the Canucks three times in the series loss. The Anaheim Ducks eliminated Vancouver in five games the following round.
#2 Blues @ #1 Stars: 2016 Second Round
Dismal performances sometimes occur in a Game 7. For the Stars, 2016 is a prime example. The St. Louis Blues dominated 6-1 in this Game 7. Robby Fabbri and Paul Stastny got goals in the first period, making the Blues look like they were going to the intermission up 2-0. Patrik Berglund ripped a shot past Kari Lehtonen with just under 4 seconds remaining to make it 3-0 Blues, and the proverbial dagger into the hearts of the Stars at the American Airlines Center.
Three more goals from the Blues salted this one away and sent them to the Western Conference Final. The Sharks took down the Blues in six games in the Western Conference Final.
WC1 Stars @ #3 Blues: 2019 Second Round
Like déjà vu with Avalanche fans, Stars fans have déjà vu with the Blues. The 2019 Central Division Final ended at the Enterprise Center. After a goal from Vince Dunn for the Blues, Mats Zuccarello of the Stars tied the game to put it 1-1 after the first period. Ben Bishop stole the show after the Blues relentlessly peppered him with 54 shots through the game.
In double overtime, Patrick Maroon ended the Stars’ season after a shot went off the post, off Bishop’s back, and settled in front of an open net for Maroon to tap it home. This loss particularly stung for the Stars as this was a stepping-stone for the Blues. St. Louis moved on to defeat the Boston Bruins in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
#3 Stars @ #2 Avalanche: 2020 Second Round
Coronavirus drastically altered the landscape of the 2020 NHL Playoffs. The pandemic did not alter the Stars and their Round 2, Game 7 destiny. For the third time in four years, they again found themselves just one win away from the Western Conference Final. The Avalanche found themselves in another Game 7 with Dallas. With all games in the Edmonton bubble, the Stars had their 3-1 series lead evaporate.
Game 7 was a wild affair with lots of goals. Alexander Radulov scored but Vladislav Namestnikov answered. Andre Burakovsky scored and Joel Kiviranta followed with his first goal in his first game of the series. Nazem Kadri scored shortly after, giving the Avalanche a 3-2 lead going into the third period. With 9:32 left in the third, Radulov scored on the power play to tie the game. Time wound down until 3:40 remaining in when Namestnikov scored the potential nail-in-the-coffin on the Stars’ season.
The Stars wasted no time when Kiviranta put a rebounded Roope Hintz shot off both posts and into the net just 10 seconds after Colorado scored. Time expired in regulation as the Stars headed to overtime again in Round 2, Game 7. After opportunities for both teams, defenseman Andrej Sekera went behind the Avalanche net with the puck. Sekera fed Kiviranta a one-timer that got past Hutchinson to send the Stars to their first Western Conference Final since 2008. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Stars in six games to win their first Stanley Cup since 2004.
Game 7 Is Inevitable
After seven Game 7s, the Stars are 3-4 with all wins coming against the Avalanche. Three of these have gone to overtime with the Stars losing two of them. Game 7s offer the highest of the highs after winning and the lowest of the lows on losing. It is a different animal when a series goes to seven games. Throw stats out the window because it could come down to one play, bounce, or save. When it goes to overtime, all it takes is one shot to end a team’s season. The Stars have been at both results numerous times. The future likely will have several Game 7s. The day will be filled with nervous anxiety for fans, crushing defeat for the loser, and thrilling victory for the winner.