This series has been overshadowed by Calgary's semifinal upset of the dynastic Oilers, thanks to Steve Smith's infamous own-goal. The first four games were split, two by lopsided scores (8-2, 5-2), before things got interesting. After losing Game 5 by 4-2, the Blues of Doug Gilmour, Bernie Federko, and Brian Sutter were down 5-2 with 11:52 to go in the third period of Game 6 before rallying to force overtime on Greg Paslawski's goal with 1:08 left. In the extra session, Doug Wickenheiser beat Flames netminder Mike Vernon off a rebound at 7:30 in what is known in St. Louis as The Monday Night Miracle. However, Vernon and the Flames recovered to win Game 7, 2-1.
2 of 11David E. Klutho/SI
Kings vs. Maple Leafs
The much-improved Maple Leafs, led by Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark, took a three-games-to-two lead into Game 6 in Los Angeles where they rallied from a 4-1 third-period deficit on Clark's hat trick. But in OT, Wayne Gretzky's high-stick that bloodied Gilmour wasn't called and the Great One remained on the ice, scoring the winner. In Toronto for Game 7, the Kings took a 2-0 before the Leafs again rallied to tie by the end of the first period. A Gretzky goal put L.A. up again, but back came the Leafs, whose impassioned faithful was roaring for a Stanley Cup Final showdown with rival Montreal. In the electric and wide-open third period, Gretzky's two tallies, the last one off the skate of Leafs defenseman Dave Ellet, were decisive in the Kings' 5-4 win.
3 of 11David E. Klutho/SI(2); Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Rangers vs. Devils
This classic matchup of the league's top two teams began at Madison Square Garden with the Devils tying Game 1 at 3-3 with a minute left, then winning in double OT on Stephane Richer's goal. Mark Messier's guarantee of victory after New York's Game 5 loss and his subsequent third-period hat trick in Game 6 that rallied the Rangers and forced the climactic showdown are legendary. So are the heroics of the far more undersung Stephane Matteau, who beat Devils goalie Martin Brodeur at 6:23 of the second OT in Game 3. In Game 7, Matteau famously did it again after the Devils' Valeri Zelepukin had tied the match with 7.7 seconds left in regulation.
4 of 11Gene J. Puskar/AP; David E. Klutho/SI
Panthers vs. Penguins
In only their third season, the Panthers made their first playoff appearance count by reaching the Stanley Cup Final after stunning Mario Lemieux's Penguins in seven games. Florida won the opener, 5-1, in Pittsburgh, lost a 3-2 squeaker in Game 2, and took Game 3 handily, 5-2, by blitzing Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso with 61 shots. But 2-1 and 3-0 losses put Florida in a 3-2 hole. At home for Game 6, before 14,703 plastic rat-throwing fans (an homage to Scott Mellanby having scored two goals earlier that season with a stick he'd used to kill a rat in the locker room), the Panthers erased a 2-1 Pens lead in the second period and won, 4-3. Goalie John Vanbiesbrouck was brilliant in Game 7 (39 saves)as Florida won on the road when Tom Fitzgerald snapped 1-1 tie in the third period with a 58-foot slapshot and Johan Garpenlov added the clincher with less than three minutes left to play.
5 of 11Michael Mulvey/Reuters; Elsa/Getty Images
Stars vs. Avalanche
Colorado took a three-games-to-two lead with Patrick Roy besting the Presidents' Trophy-winning Stars in Game 4, 3-2 in OT, and the Avs winning a 7-5 shootout in Game 5. But Dallas's defense clamped down on the speedy Avs while winning the next two matches by 4-1 scores. In Game 7, former Av Mike Keane beat Roy twice in a 4:05 span of the second period as Dallas opened a 3-0 lead and continued on to winning its first Stanley Cup. "There are a lot of talented teams in the NHL, and there are probably teams with a higher skill level than our team ... but I have never seen a group that pulls the way this group does," said Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "They take an awful lot of pride in not cracking."
6 of 11Rick Wilking, Ronald Martinez/Reuters; David E. Klutho/SI
Stars vs. Avalanche
Avalanche netminder Patrick Roy shut out the defending Stanley Cup champions by identical 2-0 scores in Games 1 and 3, and forced the finale with a 26-save, 2-1 victory in Game 6, the decisive margin provided by one of Chris Drury's customarily clutch goals. Game 7 in Dallas saw the Stars take a 3-0 lead into the third period before their own netminder, Ed Belfour, was forced to blunt a furious Colorado rally that produced quick goals by Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk. Belfour's post denied Ray Bourque the game-tying tally. Final score: Stars 3, Avs 2. "It was an unbelievable series," said Brett Hull, who scored five goals for Dallas in the seven games. "It could have gone either way. I'm just thankful we got kind of lucky at end and held on."
7 of 11Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Devils vs. Flyers
The top-seed Flyers held a three-games-to-one lead when Devils coach Larry Robinson blasted his team after Game 4. Fourth-seed New Jersey responded by desperately staving off elimination in Philadelphia with 4-1 win. In Game 6, Eric Lindros returned from a 10-week absence due to concussion symptoms and nearly scored twice, but only his tally with 30 seconds left to play counted. Meanwhile, Martin Brodeur was superb in net as the Devils won Games 6 and 7 by 2-1 scores, becoming the first team to win a conference final after falling into so large a hole. Game 7 was also notable for Scott Stevens' crushing check on Lindros in the first period that sent the Flyers star off the ice for the rest of the match.
8 of 11Jack Dempsey/AP; Dave Sandford/Getty Images/NHLI
Red Wings vs. Avalanche
The two bitter rivals went the distance and the first six games were tight and hard-fought. Darren McCarty's hat trick gave the Wings Game 1, but the Avs countered with a 4-3 OT win in Game 2, thanks to Chris Drury's goal. Game 3 went into OT with Avs goalie Patrick Roy staving off a Wings onslaught until he was beaten by Frederik Olausson at 12:44 of the extra session. In Game 4, Drury was again the hero for Colorado in a 3-2 win, and the Avs went up three games to two when Peter Forsberg victimized the Wings on a line change, scoring the decisive goal in a 2-1 OT thriller. It took Dominik Hasek's 2-0 shutout in Game 6 to turn the tide and the Red Wings poured it on with a 7-0 blowout in Game 7.
9 of 11Al Bello/Getty Images/NHLI
Devils vs. Senators
The Senators, who boasted the firepower of Daniel Alfredsson, Marian Hossa and Dany Heatley, were the top seed; the defensively-stout Devils No. 2. Four of the seven games were decided by one goal, including Martin Brodeur's 1-0 shutout of Ottawa in Game 3. The Sens later rallied from a three-games-to-one deficit, thanks to Jason Spezza's sterling playoff debut (goal, assist) in Game 5 and forced Game 7 when Chris Phillips scored at 15:51 of OT in New Jersey. The 2-1 defeat was the Devils' first on home ice of the postseason. Overtime loomed in Game 7 when Jeff Friesen scored with 2:14 left to play, giving the Devils a 3-2 win.
10 of 11Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Lightning vs. Flyers
The see-saw series between the top-seed Lightning and third-seed Flyers was the 11th in NHL history to go seven games with the two teams alternating victories. The Bolts were 1:49 away from their first Cup final when Keith Primeau sent Game 6 into OT where Simon Gagne won it at 18:18 as the Flyers forced Game 7. Back in Tampa, both teams played aggressively as Ruslan Fedotenko scored on a power play deflection in the first period and Fredrik Modin tallied early in the second. After Philly's Kim Johnsson made it 2-1 later in the period, Tampa Bay's Nikolai Khabibulin stoned the Flyers the rest of the way.
11 of 11Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Hurricanes vs. Sabres
The first three games were decided by one goal. In Game 5, the Hurricanes rallied from a two-goal deficit and sent the match into OT where Cory Stillman scored to give them a 4-3 win and a three-games-to-two edge. But the gritty Sabres, who'd lost four regular defensemen and center Tim Connolly to injury, dug in and won Game 6 at home, 2-1 in OT, moving `Canes captain Rod Brind'Amour to address his team in the dressing room afterward. Game 7 then added to Buffalo's history of playoff heartbreak as the Hurricanes overcame a 2-1 deficit with Brind'Amour breaking a 2-2 tie by beating the Sabres' rookie netminder, Ryan Miller, at 11:22 of the third period. Carolina's rookie goalie, Cam Ward, made the lead stand up in a 4-2 victory that sent the `Canes to the final where they won their first Stanley Cup.
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