Game 7: The word and the number combine to tingle the spine of any hockey fan. Visions of Pat LaFontaine vs. the Capitals, Stephane Matteau vs. the Devils and, locally, Andrew Brunette vs. the Avalanche quickly come to mind when a winner-take-all game is mentioned.
In Minnesota, the local NHL team playing in a Game 7 hasn't happened often. The Wild, in its 20th season, will play its fourth Game 7 on Friday night in Las Vegas, trying to improve to 4-0 all-time in such contests when it takes on the Golden Knights. The North Stars played 26 seasons in Minnesota and went 3-4 in Game 7s before Norm Green moved the team to Dallas.
Friday's contest marks the Wild's first Game 7 since 2014, and columnist Patrick Reusse is a must-read on the team's Game 7 history.
As for the North Stars and their history, here's a look back at their Game 7s:
1968 NHL quarterfinals, North Stars 9, Los Angeles 4
The Expansion Six joined the Original Six in the 1967-68 season, and the North Stars opened the playoffs by beating the Kings in a back-and-forth series. The home teams won the first six games, and the series shifted to the Forum for the finale. Behind two goals each by Bill Goldsworthy, Milan Marcetta and Parker MacDonald, the Stars rolled in the clincher.
1968 NHL semifinals, St. Louis 2, North Stars 1, 2OT
The North Stars nearly made the Stanley Cup Final, though it should be noted that the playoff format guaranteed an expansion team would face an Original Six squad for the title. That team was St. Louis, which won on Ron Schock's goal 2:50 into the second overtime. Walt McKechnie had given Minnesota 1-0 lead late in the third period before the Blues' Dickie Moore tied it 31 seconds later. "The St. Louis series left some scars that may never heal, but we'll be a better team because of it next year and for years to come,'' North Stars coach Wren Blair told the Minneapolis Tribune.
1972 NHL quarterfinals, St. Louis 2, North Stars 1, OT
Once again, the Blues had the Stars' number, edging Minnesota at Met Center on Kevin O'Shea's goal 10:07 into overtime. Charlie Burns had the lone goal for the North Stars, who lost the final two games of the series. The day before the game, Burns said, "We have to come out dancing.'' That prompted the Minneapolis Star's Dan Stoneking to write, "The North Stars did [come out dancing]. It was one of the 'now' dances like the bugaloo in which the dancer does a lot of shaking and arm waving but seems to be stalled in one spot.''
1980 NHL quarterfinals, North Stars 3, Montreal 2
After sweeping Los Angeles in the qualifying round, the North Stars ended the Canadiens' four-year Stanley Cup reign as Al MacAdam broke a 2-2 tie with 1:26 left in the third period in the Montreal Forum. Tom Younghans and Craig Hartsburg also scored for the Stars, who got 22 saves from Gilles Meloche. "I can't even think [about next opponent] Philly yet,'' Stars coach Glen Sonmor told the Minneapolis Tribune after the game. "I'm still numb from this one.''
1984 division final, North Stars 4, St. Louis 3, OT
After edging Chicago 3-2 in a best-of-five first-round series, the North Stars went more than the distance to beat the Blackhawks. Steve Payne got the winner 6 minutes into the extra session. Willi Plett's second goal of the game at 14:21 tied the score only 15 seconds after the Blues had taken a 3-2 lead. "I was wondering what I had to do to get a goal,'' said Payne, who had seven shots in the game.
1990 division semifinals, Chicago 5, North Stars 2
A year before the North Stars made their second run to the Stanley Cup Final, they fell to the Blackhawks as Wayne Presley and Jeremy Roenick both scored two goals. The game turned when Minnesota couldn't capitalize on a five-minute power play when Denis Savard received a high-sticking game misconduct. "The thing that triggered it was Savard getting thrown out,'' North Stars coach Pierre Page said. "As soon as he disappeared, they became a team. They became possessed. And we weren't a team anymore.''
1992 division semifinals, Detroit 5, North Stars 2
In their final playoff appearance, the North Stars took a 3-1 series lead only to see the Red Wings storm back. Second-period goals by Sergei Fedorov, Alan Kerr and Gerard Gallant sent the Red Wings on their way. "It's very frustrating to be up 3-1 and not be able to finish them off,'' North Stars forward Neal Broten said. "We knew what we had to do to win. We just had a lack of offense.''
Game 6 at Met Center was the one with the most drama, with Sergei Fedorov scoring in overtime for a 1-0 victory. The goal judge didn't turn the light on, but a video review confirmed the goal. That prompted the crowd to litter the ice with cups and seat cushions, and forward Mike Modano, sitting on the bench, was hit in the back by a whiskey bottle.