June 21st, 2024

Rivalry renewed: A lookback at past Oilers-Stars playoff matchups

By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press on May 22, 2024.

Dallas Stars Mike Modano fires the puck past Edmonton Oilers goalie Tommy Salo to score the winning goal during third period NHL playoff action in Edmonton, Saturday April 19, 2003. Dallas won the first-dund series 4-2. After more than two decades of cooled tensions, the franchises are set to renew playoff hostilities Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Ulan

DALLAS – Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers are set to meet the well-balanced – and well-rested – Dallas Stars in the NHL’s Western Conference final. The Oilers needed all seven games to dispatch the Vancouver Canucks on Monday and advance after the Stars took care of the Colorado Avalanche in six last week.

After more than two decades of cooled tensions, the franchises are set to renew playoff hostilities Thursday.

Edmonton and Dallas met six times in seven post-seasons between 1997 and 2003. The Oilers took the first matchup in dramatic fashion before the Stars made a habit of advancing to the next round.

The Canadian Press looks back at those series:

1997 – Oilers win first-round series 4-3

The underdog Oilers finished 23 points behind the Stars in the regular-season standings. With the series tied 1-1, Edmonton trailed 3-0 late in Game 3 on home ice, but scored three times before captain Kelly Buchberger added the winner in overtime. The Oilers wasted a chance to put the Stars away in Game 6 following a 1-0 OT victory in Dallas to set up another extra-time thriller. After goaltender Curtis Joseph robbed Joe Nieuwendyk of a sure-fire series winner – “Oh my goodness!” late play-by-play man Bob Cole bellowed of the save from his broadcast perch – Edmonton forward Todd Marchant blew past a defender and scored the clincher to send his team to the second round.

1998 – Stars win second-round series 4-1

Dallas secured the Presidents’ Trophy with the NHL’s best regular-season record after putting up 109 points, while Edmonton finished 29 points adrift. The teams again split the first two games in Texas – including a Joseph shutout – after moving on from the opening round, but the Stars wouldn’t be surprised two years in a row. Benoit Hogue scored in OT to give Dallas a 1-0 win in Game 3 before 3-1 and 2-1 victories pushed the Stars to the conference final.

1999 – Stars win first-round series 4-0

Disappointed after losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings the previous spring, Dallas was on a mission. The Stars captured a second straight Presidents’ Trophy with 114 points compared to the Oilers’ 78. But despite the massive gulf in regular-season output, every game in the series was decided by one goal – including a 3-2 Stars’ victory in triple overtime of Game 4 where Nieuwendyk got a measure of personal revenge for 1997. Dallas would go on to win the franchise’s only Cup that June.

2000 – Stars win first-round series 4-1

Dallas once again entered the series as a decisive favourite against the small-market Oilers. Edmonton picked up a 5-2 victory on home ice in Game 3 to cut its deficit to 2-1, but the Stars bounced back with 4-3 and 3-2 decisions – overcoming their first hurdle before making a second straight appearance in the final.

2001 – Stars win first-round series 4-2

The teams held serve at home through the first four games – including three decided after 60 minutes – before Kirk Muller scored in the matchup’s fourth OT contest to give the Stars a 3-2 lead. Dallas finished the job two nights later to seal a fourth straight series victory – and third in a row in the first round – over the Oilers.

2003 – Stars win first-round series 4-2

Dallas and Edmonton missed the playoffs in 2002, but were back at it 12 months later with a sixth post-season meeting in seven years. The Stars once again topped the West with 111 points, while the Oilers were 19 points back. Edmonton led the series 1-0 and 2-1, but Dallas took the next three – including a 3-2 victory in Game 6 – to once again claim the series.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 22, 2024.

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