Brett Hull’s Crease Goal

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Posted: July 16, 2017


During Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, the Buffalo Sabres fell to the Dallas Stars, thanks to what was one of the most controversial goals in NHL history. During the season, the league had introduced a rule, which prohibited outfield players from entering the goaltenders crease unless the puck was already in the crease. During overtime of game six, Brett Hull of the Stars scored the series-clinching goal but reviews of game footage revealed that at least part of his left skate was inside the crease when he got possession. Many goals over the course of the season had been ruled out for less. The Brett Hull Crease Goal or “No-Goal” depending on which side of the divide one sits, is one of the most controversial moments in North American sports history.

Buildup to the Goal

En route to the final, the Buffaloes had defeated the Ottawa Senators, the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs respectively in the playoffs. This was only their second trip to the finals, having struggled to produce a well-gelled team during their three decades of existence. The Stars were also making their first appearance in the finals, beating the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, and the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs. The series started with a 3-2 overtime win by the Sabres, but the Stars responded with a 4-2 win in game two. The Stars took the lead in the series with a 2-1 win in game three and the Sabres pulled level again after turning the tables in game four. The Stars pulled ahead once again with a 2-0 win in game five, leaving them just one win short of the Stanley Cup.

Buildup to the Goal

En route to the final, the Buffaloes had defeated the Ottawa Senators, the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs respectively in the playoffs. This was only their second trip to the finals, having struggled to produce a well-gelled team during their three decades of existence. The Stars were also making their first appearance in the finals, beating the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, and the Colorado Avalanche in the playoffs. The series started with a 3-2 overtime win by the Sabres, but the Stars responded with a 4-2 win in game two. The Stars took the lead in the series with a 2-1 win in game three and the Sabres pulled level again after turning the tables in game four. The Stars pulled ahead once again with a 2-0 win in game five, leaving them just one win short of the Stanley Cup.

Game 6

On June 19, 1999 the Stars and the Sabres met at the Marine Midland Arena, for a game six that would be etched in memory for a long time after the final horn. Dallas took the lead eight minutes into the first period through Jere Lehtinen. The scores remained unchanged until one and a half minutes to the end of the second period when the Sabres’ Stu Barnes shot past Stars goaltender Ed Belfour. The game remained level through the third period forcing the teams into overtime. The first two overtime periods passed without a goal, with both goaltenders at their best. The with 14:51 erupted in the third overtime period, Hull caught a rebound and shot it over the sprawling Sabers goalie Dominic Hasek. The Stars fans and players erupted in delirium while the Sabres seethed at what they believed was an illegal goal. An alternative angle camera, which had a better view than the match officials showed that Hull’s left skate had breached Hasek’s crease by a small margin. League officials however clarified that the Crease Rule, which had been in effect from the beginning of the season, did not disqualify Hull’s goal because Hull had maintained possession through the whole sequence. The aggrieved Sabres had to bitterly concede the Stanley Cup.

Aftermath of the Brett Hull Crease Goal

Buffalo’s fans coined the term “No Goal” to refer to the controversial goal, which had “stolen” the championship from them. Although the league refused to overturn the decision, the headache that the rule had caused throughout the season led to its repealing before the start of the 1999/2000 season. Wrong calls seemed to have an affinity for the Sabres as the following season, another questionable goal helped halt their charge for another finals appearance. Playing against the Philadelphia Flyers in game two of the first round, a shot by Flyer John LeClair entered the Sabres’ net through the mesh on the side but was given as a goal. The Flyers won 2-1 and went on to eliminate the Sabres.

 

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