This is sad but true - the greatness of Game 7 Stanley Cup playoff hockey is coming to the American Airlines Center for the first time. The building opened in the summer of 2001.
The Stars (barely) proved that the road team is the better team in the Western Conference semifinals as they scored three first period goals in St. Louis on Monday night to defeat the Blues 3-2 in Game 6 of their series.
The Stars held on for life in the final two periods but goals by Mattias Janmark, Vernon Fiddler and Jason Spezza were just barely enough. Goalie Kari Lehtonen faced a barrage of quality shots in the final two periods behind a defense that again was bullied too often to be trusted.
Lehtonen stopped 35 shots, all of which felt like came in the final 40 minutes. His counterpart, Brian Elliott, was pulled in the first period.
Children, gather round for we are now tied at three games. Game 7 will be 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at the AAC. There is no better playoff game than a Stanley Cup Game 7.
“We have a Game 7 in Dallas,” Stars captain Jamie Benn told NBC Sports after the game from the bench. “And anything can happen.”
The last time the Stars hosted a Game 7 they were still playing in Reunion Arena when Ken Hitchcock was their head coach, Brett Hull was their winger, and Doug Armstrong was their assistant general manager. That was May 27, 2000 when the Stars defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
That was the second time in as many years the Stars defeated the Avalanche in Game 7 at Reunion in the Western Conference Finals. Reunion has been replaced by the AAC and Hitch’, Hull and Army are in St. Louis with the Blues.
Anybody who was fortunate enough to be inside Reunion for those games, or just around for those two years when the Stars went to consecutive Stanley Cup Finals in ‘99 and ‘00, remembers the feeling of those Game 7s. There was an intensity to those games that makes Game 7 the ultimate in-game experience.
Since the Stars moved to the AAC, the level of playoff hockey has waned dramatically. The last time the Stars played in a Game 7 was 2007 when they lost at Vancouver.
Not that Game 7s are a common thing. The last Game 7 at the AAC was a Dallas Mavericks game; that game was a Mavs win against the Houston Rockets in their first round series in 2005.
As to who wins on Wednesday ... I (brilliantly) penned after the Stars’ Game 5 loss, “Do not be surprised if the Stars win in St. Louis to force a Game 7. Be shocked if they actually win the decisive game.”
While preferring to be wrong I will stick with that pick, but right now the primary thing to do is enjoy the greatness that is Game 7.