When it happened Sunday afternoon, it was devastating. Up 3-2 in the series but trailing 2-1 on the scoreboard in the third period, the Stars were desperately pushing for an equalizer. The game seemed to be tilting their way, but the Stars had been unable to get a second puck past St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington.
Then the Blues' Colton Parayko fired a slap shot at Stars goalie Ben Bishop.
Parayko's shot hit Bishop somewhere around his left collarbone. Bishop, the Stars' best player this season, went down in a heap, laying prone on the ice. Despite NHL rule 8.1, which allows on-ice officials to whistle play dead "in the case where it is obvious that a player has sustained a serious injury," referees allowed play to continue. The Blues' Alexander Steen corralled the puck and flipped it toward the front of the net, where Jaden Schwartz tipped it in.
Clearly deflated, the Stars never recovered and St. Louis won 4-1, tying the West semifinal series at three games apiece.
If the Stars win Game 7 Tuesday night (7 p.m., NBCSN), the controversial call will end up a historical footnote. If the Stars lose, it will live in infamy as one of DFW sports' biggest calls of all time.
As we count down the hours and minutes until the Stars get back on the ice in St. Louis, let's look at some of the other calls that have shaped North Texas sports history.
1. Drew Pearson gets away with a subtle shove. — Roger Staubach's pass to Drew Pearson to beat the Vikings in the 1975 playoffs is iconic. It's the Hail Mary for which all Hail Mary's are named. Looking at the tape objectively, however, it sure does appear that Pearson pushes Vikings defensive back Nate Wright to gain the separation he needs to make the catch.
2. Stars win the Stanley Cup on Brett Hull's (probably) legal goal. — When Stars forward Brett Hull put the puck past Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek deep into the second overtime of Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup finals, euphoria was followed by controversy. Sabres players and coaches complained, almost immediately, that Hull had a skate in the crease when he scored, and that the goal should not have counted. Eventually, referees ruled that Hull initially possessed the puck outside of the crease before skating inside of it, making his goal the championship game winner.
3. Dwyane Wade gets away with everything. — After falling behind 2-0 to the Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat stormed back to win the next four games and win the championship. The reason the series remains a favorite of sports conspiracy theorists is the way the Heat came back.
Over the course of the six-game series, Wade shot 97 free throws, equal to the number shot by the top three Mavericks combined. Anytime Wade got anywhere near the paint, a whistle blew, and he got two shots at the line. It's not hard to score if no one's guarding you.
4. Dez Bryant and the catch that never was. — Facing a fourth-and-2 deep in Green Bay territory, down five with a little less than five minutes remaining in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoffs, Tony Romo went deep to Dez Bryant. Bryant appeared to catch the ball and dived for the end zone, coming down at about the 1-yard line. The Packers challenged the call and, after further review, officials ruled the Bryant hadn't controlled the ball completely as he landed on the ground and gave the ball back to the Packers. By every way that one might define "catching" a ball, Bryant caught the pass.
5. The Cowboys get lucky against the Lions. — The only reason the 2014 Cowboys were in the Divisional playoffs in the first place was their great escape in the wild-card round against the Lions. Ahead by three midway through the fourth quarter, Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens appeared to interfere with Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew deep in Cowboys territory on a third-down pass. Game officials huddled for what seemed like an eternity before deciding to pick up the flag. The Lions punted the ball back to Romo and the Cowboys, who drove the length of the field for the winning touchdown.
6. The 2016 Cowboys and the one that didn't get away. — You remember the end of the Cowboys' 2016 Divisional playoff loss to the Packers. The Cowboys came all the way back from 21-3 down in the first half to tie the Packers at 28 with four minutes left, watched Packers kicker Mason Crosby kick a 56-yard field goal to give the Packers the lead, tied the score again on Dan Bailey's 52-yard field goal and then lost the game at the gun on another Crosby field goal, this one from 51 yards away.
What you might not remember is that, on the 36-yard Aaron Rodgers to Jared Cook pass that immediately preceded Crosby's game winner, the Packers offensive line sure did take down Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving, who appeared to have a free run at Rodgers. Without the hold, Rodgers may have eluded Irving and completed the pass anyway, but we'll never know.
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7. The umps get one right for the Rangers. — This one's fun because it made Yankees fans so mad at the time. Leading off the top of the second inning in Game 2 of the 1996 American League Division Series, Rangers slugger Juan Gonzalez hit a rope down Yankee Stadium's left-field line. The left-field umpire called it a home run. As Gonzalez circled the bases, Yankees manager Joe Torre came out to protest, but replays showed the umps got the call right. A fan standing in foul territory reached in front of the foul pole, caught the home run and pulled it back into foul ground.
The Rangers had a 1-0 lead in both the series and the game after Gonzalez's dinger, but the Yankees went on to win Game 2 in extra innings before taking both Games 3 and 4 in Arlington.