Work in Sports
That was then, this is WOW
After Game 5 thriller, Stanley Cup finals have new life
Posted: Friday June 09, 2000 07:58 PM
By Al Strachan, SLAM! Sports
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It was a classic goaltenders' battle. It was a valiant struggle between two proud and talented teams. It was also a record-setter, the longest game to stand at 0-0 in Stanley Cup history.
But eventually, someone had to score and when it happened -- at 6:21 of the third overtime period -- the Dallas Stars had forced a sixth game in a Stanley Cup final in which they had appeared to be dead.
Mike Modano was the hero for the Stars, getting his first even-strength goal in 10 games when he tipped what appeared to be a routine shot past New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur for the 1-0 victory.
"Brett Hull had the puck in the corner there," Brodeur said, "and he tried to dump it in. It hit my defenceman's pads and went back to him. He put it to the net and Modano was flying through the middle and going to the net. He hit it in mid-air and it went through my legs, I think.
"It's unfortunate. It was a great hockey game. Both sides had a lot of chances to score. It was a long time for everybody out there, but now it's all over with and we've got to move on."
"It's unfortunate," Devils coach Larry Robinson agreed. "Modano picked it out of the air."
Brodeur, like his counterpart Ed Belfour, had been brilliant, stopping all kinds of labelled point-blank shots in overtime, including one by Derian Hatcher and another by Mike Keane.
At the other end, Belfour was equally magnificent over the course of the evening, stopping a host of chances from Bobby Holik and in overtime, a clean breakaway by Alex Mogilny.
The longer the game went, the more the trends moved significantly in favour of the Stars. It was the fifth triple overtime game in history and the road team has won all five.
Of the past 11 multiple-overtime playoff games, the home team has won exactly zero.
The Stars wasted no time making it clear that the Devils were not about to have the Cup handed to them. They came out hustling and banging, and when the first period was over, had accumulated 11 shots.
That might not seem like a major achievement, but it marked the first time in any period in the entire series that the Stars had managed to reach a double-digit shot total.
In the second overtime, they got another, perhaps an indication that this was to be their night.
Before the game, Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said he wanted his team to get off with a strong first period to set the Devils on their heels. He got what he wanted.
"I think what set it up for us was we played a real good first period," he said after the game. "As the game went on this is very familiar territory to our team. We went through it last year -- multiple overtimes, classic games. We've been here before."
Now, they're two games away from repeating as Stanley Cup champions and they're heading home for Game 6 with a goalie who looks as if he may never be beaten. But until the goal, Brodeur also looked as if he might never be beaten.
"I honestly thought we were going to have to take a timeout and play next week," Hitchcock said, "because I didn't think anybody was going to score."
It wasn't for lack of chances. Holik alone had eight, and a number of them were from the doorstep. He was also in there a couple of times setting up teammates for great shots. But Belfour saw everything and was equal to the task.
It would have been easy for the Stars to play a respectable game and bow out gracefully. After all, they were on the verge of elimination. But they would have no part of it. They played hard and kept battling even though they are the older team.
"These are two great teams," Hitchcock said. "Neither one of them has any quit at all. I've never seen two teams give as much as I've seen in these past two games."
As it went on, it became increasingly likely that luck would play a part in the winning goal.
"We knew that if we had a goal, we were winning the Stanley Cup," Brodeur said. "It was a fun time, but after the second [overtime], it got a little tiring. We played well but Eddie Belfour was magnificent out there."
Robinson urged his team to make the kind of play that led to the winner.
"I said, 'Just be throwing pucks at the net. Anything can happen,'" he said. "Those are the type of goals that go in in overtime. It's just unfortunate that it went their way rather than our way."