NHL Playoffs: This One’s for the Ages

It doesn’t get any better than this.

The NHL Playoffs have been an all-time classic, with the Stanley Cup finals looming. The Dallas Stars won the Western Conference. They will play either the New York Islanders or Tampa Bay Lightning to conclude a phenomenal playoff season of big momentum swings, overtime drama and fast-paced play.

Final series dates are still to be determined. Expect the finals to start this weekend or early next week.

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The Stars won two of their qualifying series in overtime, including a Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche. Their season was one goal away from ending, but the Stars extended it with an overtime tally.

And then they halted the favored Vegas Golden Knights in five games, including an OT clincher.

If they end up playing Tampa Bay, the Stars face the overtime kings. It’s a theme.

Tampa opened the playoffs with a five—count ’em—five overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. They finished that series with an OT triumph. They finished the Boston Bruins in overtime. Had they won the Game 5 overtime against the Islanders, the Lightning would have become the first team in NHL history to win three straight series-clinching games in overtime.

If the Stars face off with the Islanders, they’ll meet the Cinderella team of the post-season. The Islanders barely made the playoffs. And then they defeated the highly-favored Washington Capitals and the No. 1 seeded Philadelphia Flyers in the first two rounds.

When their season looked over, the Islanders turned the tables on Tampa Bay. They defeated the Lightning in a Game 5 overtime, extending this long series.

So far, this is a post-season that’s shifted from the norm. You’d have expected all the overtime action to catch up with Tampa Bay before now, but the Lightning is still thriving, the Islanders are still scrapping and the Dallas Stars are still waiting.

But not for long.

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