Stars, Sharks put the time in overtime

Dallas' win in the 70th extra minute was just another NHL playoff thriller.


King Kaufman
May 5, 2008 10:50PM (UTC)

I had to sleep in Monday after that four-overtime playoff clincher Sunday night, which Brenden Morrow of the Dallas Stars finally ended at 9:03 of the seventh period by deflecting a shot past Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks for a 2-1 win.

That means I didn't get up till 7.

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The Stars staved off the biggest playoff collapse since the 2004 New York Yankees with that goal, winning the second-round series 4-2 after winning the first three games, then losing the next two.

The Stars meet the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference finals starting Thursday in Detroit. The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers begin the Eastern Conference finals Friday in Pittsburgh.

A 129-minute hockey game is the equivalent of a 19-inning baseball game, the likes of which cause oohing and ahing for decades if it happens in the postseason. That is, it would cause oohing ahing. The longest postseason game in baseball history went 18 innings.

And let's face it, players spend most of overtime in an extra-inning baseball game standing around trying to keep their feet from falling asleep. That and refueling. With hot dogs. New pitchers come in every few innings. The catchers have it tough. Everybody else is pretty much playing baseball, but kind of a hunkered-down version.

Hockey overtime is hockey -- only more so. Six and a half periods they played Sunday, each more intense than the last. The game was notable for having two penalties called in 69 minutes of overtime, which is a lot of penalties for overtime. Overtime is rough duty.

The football equivalent to Sunday's game would have been a game that ended nine minutes into the fifth overtime. If an NFL playoff game lasted that long, there would be six cable channels dedicated full-time to slow-motion highlights of it for the next 50 years. Congress would approve a trillion dollars in research spending on reanimation technology so that John Facenda could be brought back to narrate it. There would be a museum.

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The longest game in NFL history lasted 82 minutes, 40 seconds. Double overtime. Football fans still genuflect to it 36 years later.

Let's not even talk basketball. An NBA game of equivalent length would have had about 11 overtimes.

Sunday's Stars victory was the eighth longest NHL game ever. It was a fabulous game. Both goalies, Nabokov and traditional playoff underachiever Marty Turco, stood on their heads, with Nabokov making a snatching glove stop in the first overtime that, considering the circumstances, with his team a goal away from elimination after having rallied from 3-0 to 3-2 in the series, was probably the save of the year.

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That the contest probably won't be enshrined on the short list of all-time greatest NHL games is a testament to how good NHL playoff hockey can be, especially in elimination games.


King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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