The sixteen teams that qualified, eight from each conference, played best-of-7 series for conference quarterfinals, semifinals and championships, and then the conference champions played a best-of-seven series for the Stanley Cup.
Three of the bottom four seeded teams in the Eastern Conference succeeded in the quarterfinals round against their higher seeded opponents: The seven-seed Maple Leafs, the six-seed Penguins, and the five-seed Sabres.
The only Western Conference team to be upset was the Detroit Red Wings who had a two games to zero lead in the series, but the Kings had what the Red Wings didn't have: persistence. The Red Wings were a heavy favorite to beat the Kings.
Each conference saw one sweep series, but neither conference experienced any game-seven series, the series which is arguably the most exciting moment in sports.
(1) New Jersey Devils vs. (8) Carolina Hurricanes
Right from the outset, there were few observers who believed the 8th seeded Hurricanes had a chance against the Devils. This was only Carolina's second post-season appearance since relocating from Hartford (their first coming in 1999 when they lost in six games to the Boston Bruins), while the Devils were in the midst of their own golden age. After the first three games- all wins by the Devils, including two shutouts- confirmed those beliefs, and even though Rod Brind'Amour scored in overtime to claim Game Four for the Hurricanes, a Devils victory seemed to be nothing but a formality.
However, Hurricanes goaltender Arturs Irbe stole Game Five from the Devils, making 37 saves to help the Hurricanes win 3-2 and unexpectedly force Game Six. Sensing that a monumental upset could be brewing, Game Six saw the series' loudest crowd, as Carolinians rallied around their team. The game also gained notoriety outside of Raleigh, as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the leading hockey broadcaster in Canada, picked up the game and Game Seven (if it went that far) for broadcast.
Unfortunately, despite the raucous crowd and the added notoriety, the Hurricanes couldn't keep up their magic. They never led for the entire game, and while David Tanabe scored midway through the second to pull the 'Canes to within one (followed by a two-man power play for 54 seconds), the Devils, behind veteran Randy McKay would explode for a 5-1 victory. At the end of the game, the Hurricanes were given a rousing standing ovation by the crowd, which was praised by players on both sides. Game Six is largely hailed as "the true moment hockey arrived in Carolina" .
(2) Ottawa Senators vs. (7) Toronto Maple Leafs
The matchup between the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs was one that left many hockey enthusiasts stunned. The second-seed Senators took on their seventh seeded counterpart, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Senators expected to roll over the Maple Leafs, especially since the Senators swept the Maple Leafs during the regular season, but just the reverse happened. Game one was one of two overtime games in the series, and the first game ended with a shot from the blue line by Mats Sundin. Game two was distinguished by the play of the Maple Leafs, leaving the Senators in the dust three goals to zero. The second overtime game was game three where the score was tied at two goals apiece until Cory Cross scored early in the first overtime session. The fourth game was equally punishing by the Maple Leafs as they swept the number two seed.
(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins and Capitals had formed one of the biggest rivalries in the playoffs as of late. The Capitals playoff history was marked by disappointment and humiliation, including a bitter five-game loss to these same Penguins the year previous.
After game one, a game featuring high-standard goal tending that the Capitals won, the Penguins came roaring back in games two and three, game three being highlighted by rookie Johan Hedberg's shutout performance. Game four ended in overtime in favor of Washington, despite goals by Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux, the two superstars of Pittsburgh. In game five, Pittsburgh came out fast with Lemieux having a goal and an assist on top of Andrew Ference's goal to win by one goal, two goals to one. The elimination game, game six, went all the way to overtime where Martin Straka scored after stealing the puck from Capitals defenseman Sergei Gonchar to win the series for the Penguins, four games to two.
The result was the same for the Caps once again. One more playoff collapse. Both teams would miss the playoffs the following season, and both would fire their coaches.
(4) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (5) Buffalo Sabres
The Flyers were entering this year's playoffs still trying to forget the Eastern Conference finals the previous year. In 2000 they had a 3–1 series lead against the eventual Cup champs Devils, but lost the next three. Coach Craig Ramsay was fired in the middle of the season, GM Bob Clarke exclaimed his decision was based on the fact that his Flyers were not "tough enough". He hired ex- Flyer tough guy and former teammate Bill Barber. The Sabres season was not as complicated, Lindy Ruff led his Sabres to one of their best regular seasons in recent history. In the playoffs, the two teams had met three times in four years, with the most recent series ending in a Flyers win. The Sabres would look for revenge in the city of brotherly love.
After Philadelphia got stopped by Dominik Hasek and the Sabres in the first two games, one of which was ended by a Jay McKee overtime goal, the Flyers came out in game three determined to win a game before losing the first three, and they did by one goal, but they lost again to the Sabres in game four in overtime, after Curtis Brown banged the puck past goalie Roman Cechmanek. The Flyers prevailed in game five by a two-goal margin, but they were hammered by the Sabres in game six: they gave up a total of eight goals, five of which were surrendered by Cechmanek who was replaced early by Brian Boucher, but Boucher didn't make a difference as he gave up three goals, too. Dominik Hasek notched another shutout performance in game six, and the Sabres moved on to the conference semifinals.
(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (8) Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks were entering the playoffs for the first time since 1996 after several miserable seasons. The Avalanche were the heavily favoured team after winning the President's Trophy as the best team in the regular season.
Each of the first three games were decided by one goal, the first game being a high-scoring affair with Chris Drury scoring the game-winner in the last minute of regulation and Rob Blake picking up four points. Peter Forsberg scored the overtime winner in Game 3 and the Avalanche strode away with a three-games-to-none advantage. Game 4 was close until the third period, when Peter Forsberg, Eric Messier and Joe Sakic scored in 38 seconds to put the series away. Joe Sakic scored in each of the four games, and the Avalanche beat the Canucks in a 4-game sweep.
(2) Detroit Red Wings vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings
The seventh seed Kings took a first-round series from number two Detroit, and Los Angeles came back to win the rest after trailing two games to zero. Games 1 and 2 went to Detroit, with Game 2 coming easily by a four-goal margin, but the Kings persevered in Game 3 behind Felix Potvin's 22 saves . Game 4 was a game for the history books: in the third period, Detroit had a three-goal lead with about six minutes to go, but relinquished the lead to the Kings' Jozef Stumpel and crew, who made a miraculous comeback to tie the game up and force it to overtime. In the extra period, Eric Belanger scored to put the finishing touch on a momentous come from behind victory and raise the team's spirits up with a tied series. After winning Game 5 in Detroit, the Kings traveled back to Los Angeles to win in overtime on an Adam Deadmarsh goal that clinched the series. Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood bore the brunt of the blame for this series loss; the following summer, the Red Wings acquired veteran goaltender Dominik Hasek and waived Osgood. In addition, the Red Wings would acquire Luc Robitaille from the Kings. The moves would pay off as the Red Wings would win the Stanley Cup the next year.
With four overtime games, three of which came on the heels of one another, the Stars fought off the Oilers after Edmonton tied the series up in game two, one of the two non-overtime games. Game one ended when Jamie Langenbrunner scored the overtime goal with more than seventeen minutes remaining. Game two was a cheeky game with nine roughing penalties, and out of the nine goals scored, only two were even strength goals. The penalty killing for each team was pretty poor: Edmonton scored three powerplay goals out of ten chances, and Dallas scored twice out of six chances. Game three ended very late in the initial overtime period when unlikely hero Benoit Hogue, of the Dallas Stars, scored the game-winning goal with twelve seconds remaining. In game four, it was Mike Comrie who closed the game with his own overtime goal with less than three minutes left in a first overtime period. The final overtime game concluded as Kirk Muller redeemed the Stars after they gave up a two-goal lead, but game six didn't go as the previous game had: the Stars finished off the Edmonton Oilers as Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk and Brett Hull scored goals to win the series four games to two.
This series featured a rematch of the previous season's opening round playoff series, when the Sharks upset the President's Trophy-winning Blues in seven games. Game one of this six-game set featured no goals in the first period, but three goals in the final period, as St. Louis edged the Sharks for the opening game of the series. Pierre Turgeon opened the scoring with a goal on a scramble in front of the net with less than 3 minutes remaining in the second period. The Blues punctuated the victory with an Al Macinnis 5-on-3 slap shot power play goal nearly seven minutes into the third period, providing a lead that would prove insurmountable. It was a rough game in the final period as misconduct penalties were dished out without hesitation: 52 total penalty minutes. Game two featured only one goal, and it came courtesy of Scott Thornton in the second period. Game three featured Dallas Drake who netted two goals, Scott Young who assisted three goals, and Pierre Turgeon who netted a Power Play goal and two assists; game three ended six goals to three for St. Louis. One of Drake's goals was a short-handed effort on a 2-on-1 break. In game four, Keith Tkachuk scored a Power Play goal with one second remaining in the first period, but the player who would ultimately win game four would be Miikka Kiprusoff who encountered 41 shots and only let two into the net. San Jose won the game three goals to two. Kiprusoff would also play excellent hockey in game five when he stopped 35 shots out of 38, but San Jose lost the game in overtime to a Bryce Salvador slap shot goal over Kiprusoff's left shoulder. The third period of an elimination game is not the most opportune moment to begin a comeback, and the San Jose Sharks realize this as well as anyone as Pavol Demitra scored the game-winning goal in the second period. Roman Turek, though, in the final two minutes of the third period stopped an onslaught of shots by the Sharks, and once the game ended, Chris Pronger, captain of the Blues, tackled Turek to congratulate him on his performance. The St. Louis Blues won the series four games to two.
(1) New Jersey Devils vs. (7) Toronto Maple Leafs
Both the Devils and the Maple Leafs were efficient on the power play: six goals on 32 chances (18%) for New Jersey, and Toronto also scored six goals but on only 26 chances (23%). Brodeur and Joseph weren't exceptional, saving 130 shots out of 148 (88%) and 185 shots out of 206 (90%) faced, respectively. The Leafs were more efficient on the power play (and thus had more efficient penalty killing) and Joseph was more efficient than Brodeur in the goal.
The Maple Leafs flew out the gate in the Semifinals against New Jersey; the Devils had a very tough time on the powerplay, and being the top powerplay team in the league was surprising to many when the Devils failed to score on eight opportunities. The game-winning goal came from Nik Antropov in the second period, and Steve Thomas added a powerplay goal in the same period. But one goal was enough in this one, as Curtis Joseph played tremendously well for the Leafs, stopping all 32 shots by the Devils to shut them down in game one.
Game one and game two were of seeming opposites: game two featured eleven goals by the two teams. The Leafs opened the scoring in the first period, and they led going into the second period one goal to none. The Devils came thrashing back in the second period, scoring four consecutive goals against Joseph, one each by Gomez, Rafalski, Mogilny and Madden. Entering the third period down by three goals, the Maple Leafs' Sundin scored a short-handed goal just 29 seconds in, but the Devils' Mogilny would respond with a powerplay goal just 38 seconds after that. Still down three goals, the Maple Leafs had to score quickly to try to return the game's competitiveness, and they did just that. The Leafs' Thomas and Sundin would tie the game up with three goals between themselves, one of which came with just 23 seconds remaining in the game. The night would end, however, on a sour note for the Leafs who would give up the game-winning goal to Randy Mckay just five minutes into the overtime period on a two-on-one break. Each team then had a game to its name.
Game three's scoring would start on the Devils' side with Holik's powerplay goal, and the game's scoring would end with a Holik assist to Rafalski. Toronto scored twice in the second period, giving them the lead going into the third period, where Scott Gomez would score early in the period. At exactly seven minutes into the overtime session of play, Rafalski attempted to pass the puck to a teammate, but the puck deflected off the skate of a Toronto defenceman (Cory Cross) and past Joseph for the game-winning goal. Rafalski was “trying to make a pass to Randy McKay . . . but the defenceman turned [and] it went off his skate.” Despite the exemplary goaltending by Joseph in game three, the Leafs' offense wasn't nearly as potent as the Devils', who had 17 more shots than the Toronto club.
Game four's hockey play was overshadowed by the physical abuse Devils defenceman Scott Niedermayer took from Leafs enforcer Tie Domi. With mere seconds remaining in the game, a game Toronto won by two goals, Domi intentionally elbowed Niedermayer in the jaw, and the Devils defenceman left the ice rink on a stretcher, but he would return to his team's locker room in a show of determination. Niedermayer would ultimately miss about two weeks of hockey because of post-concussion symptoms. Domi received a match penalty for what Devils forward John Madden called “disgusting” and “irresponsible”. The NHL suspended Domi for the rest of the playoffs and a few games the following season. The scoring in game four occurred in only the first two periods: Toronto's Corson in the first and Berezin and Mats Sundin in the second; the Devils' Elias scored a powerplay goal in the second period, as well. 
Game five in New Jersey started with a powerplay goal from McCabe whom Mats Sundin and Tomas Kaberle, but that would be the only powerplay goal from Toronto in the game. Leafs' defenceman Cory Cross initiated scoring early in the second period, but the period would end with the two teams knotted at two goals each, as Devils' right winger Petr Sykora and center Jason Arnott scored one goal each. The controversy starts in the third period: with about 30 seconds remaining until overtime, Tomas Kaberle scored a goal on Brodeur just as Toronto Shayne Corson landed on the goalkeeper, but the blame goes to Devils defenceman Colin White who cross-checked Corson into Brodeur. The Devils thought the goal should have been disallowed due to goalkeeper interference, but since the defender was forced into the goalkeeper, the goal was upheld, and the Leafs escaped New Jersey with a road win, giving them a three-games-to-two lead.
Toronto had the Devils exactly where they wanted them: with their backs to the wall in an elimination game on the road. The Devils responded well, though, as Petr Sykora scored the first goal early in the first period, but Leafs' winger Steve Thomas put a shot past Brodeur early in the second period to tie the game up at one goal apiece. Randy McKay and Brian Rafalski (game-winning) would score within five minutes of each other to close the second period and take a two goal lead into the third. Early on in the third period, Mats Sundin would score a powerplay goal to put the Leafs within one goal, but nearly four minutes after that, Jason Arnott would score the final goal of the game, and the Devils went on to win it four goals to two and force game seven. Each team had 26 shots, but the Devils just had the power to put more pucks in the net. The Devils now had the advantage, playing the final, deciding game in their home rink.
The Maple Leafs came roaring out, though, as Steve Thomas scored a powerplay goal about halfway through the first period. Unfortunately for the Leafs, this would be the final goal of the season for them. Even though New Jersey was trailing at the start of the second period, the Devils had a lot left in the tank: Patrik Elias scored two of the four goals scored by New Jersey in the second period, and the second period concluded with a three-goal lead for them. The Toronto team was going to have to fight back to get in the game, and they needed an early goal in the third period to do that. But the Devils held them off the entire period and John Madden added another goal about halfway through the period, and this was the goal that closed the door on the Maples Leafs' season. The Devils went on to win five goals to one, and they had defeated the Maple Leafs four games to three in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
(5) Buffalo Sabres vs. (6) Pittsburgh Penguins
Entering the series, Buffalo held the best penalty killing (PK) squad which killed 88%, and Pittsburgh entered the series with the fifth best powerplay (PP) squad, which scored on 20% of its opportunities. However, the Buffalo PK and the Pittsburgh PP would underachieve during the series: Pittsburgh only scored 4 times on 27 opportunities (14%), so, consequently, Buffalo's PK percent dropped to 86. Buffalo also scored four power play goals, but on 33 chances (12%).
The Sabres and Penguins had evenly matched goaltending: Pittsburgh goaltenders saved 155 shots out of 172 (90.2%), and Buffalo's saved 166 shots out of 183 (90.8%). Both teams scored 17 goals during the series, and they also scored the same number of power play goals, four.
The Sabres just couldn't put the puck past Johan Hedberg in game one, and the Penguins only needed star center Lemieux's first-period goal to finish off Buffalo and take an early series lead. Buffalo goalkeeper Dominik Hasek gave up three goals, the other two of which came courtesy of centers Wayne Primeau and Jan Hrdina in the second half of the third period. Penguins winger Jaromir Jagr, who assisted on the Lemieux goal in the first period, injured his leg in the third period and would miss game two. Both teams were rather inept on the powerplay, wasting five conversion opportunities each.
In game two, the first period had no scoring, despite five different powerplays for the two teams. Then, about halfway through the second period, Penguins center Robert Lang scored a goal to give the Penguins a one goal to zero advantage, but the advantage would only last about three minutes until Sabres center Stu Barnes tied the game up with the only powerplay goal of the game. Pittsburgh would turn on the jets and fly away from the Sabres though, scoring two more goals in the third period, one by defenceman Ference and an empty-net goal by Kovalev. Buffalo gave up two consecutive home games to the Penguins and now had to travel to Pittsburgh for game three.
For the second consecutive game, there were no goals scored in the first period of game three, even though there were 17 combined shots on goal. The Penguins scored on the power play in the second period to take the lead. Sabres center Curtis Brown would tie the game up, though, with an even-strength goal, and the period would end at a one goal tie. Hedberg had been solid in the net for the Penguins, but the third period features three goals against him out of 11 shots. At about the halfway point in the third period, Sabres defenceman Jason Woolley scored the untying goal, and three minutes later, Miroslav Satan would score another goal to give Buffalo a two goal lead. Defenceman James Patrick finished off the game with an empty-net goal, and the Sabres won the game four goals to one. Buffalo came through to win a tough road game where a loss might have secured a series loss.
Building off the road win in game three, Buffalo scored the first goal in game four very early in the first period by center Jean-Pierre Dumont, but the Penguins would respond with a powerplay goal by center Martin Straka. Sabres center Curtis Brown scored a short-handed goal late in the first period to give Buffalo the edge heading into the locker rooms. The second period featured only one goal by Janne Laukkanen, set up by Jagr and Lemieux, and the game was tied up going into the third. Stu Barnes scored twice in the third period, and the Sabres went on to win the game by three, five goals to two. Both teams were effective on the powerplay, each scoring one goal on two chances. Coming off two straight home losses, Buffalo works hard on the road to swipe the two home games back, swinging the series back to Buffalo's advantage.
Penguins wingman Jaromir Jagr initiated the scoring in game five with a powerplay goal, the only goal in the first period. Pittsburgh would tack on another goal early on in the second period by winger Aleksey Morozov, but Sabres center Chris Gratton would respond with a powerplay goal, and the Penguins still had the lead until they gave up another short-handed goal to Curtis Brown. Brown's goal forced overtime, and Stu Barnes would score the game-winning goal to give Buffalo the series lead. The Sabres were down by two goals early but fought back and won the game by scoring three unanswered goals. Game five was the first overtime game in the string of three that would end the series.
Buffalo's right winger Maxim Afinogenov scored in the first half of the first period of game six to give the Sabres and early lead, a lead the team would need because Pittsburgh's Alexei Kovalev tied the game up early in the second period. Donald Audette would break up the tied game with an even-strength goal late in the second period. Pittsburgh would persevere and score the tying goal with less than a minute to go in the third period courtesy of Mario Lemieux, so this game headed to overtime. Martin Straka was the hero of the Penguins on that night, as he scored the game-winning goal about halfway through the overtime period. Both teams didn't score on any of the combined seven chances they saw, and the fabled game seven was due.
In game seven, the first period was an uneventful one, featuring no goals and few penalties, but the second period was a different story. Buffalo struck first as Jean-Pierre Dumont scored very early in the period, but that one-goal lead wouldn't last because Andrew Ference scored a powerplay goal to even things up at one goal apiece. Just about 30 seconds into the third period, Buffalo struck again as winger Steve Heinze scored a powerplay goal. Robert Lang would score to tie the game up at two goals apiece, so it was on to overtime in game seven. Penguins defenceman Darius Kasparaitis would win the game and the series for the Penguins as he scored off of passes from Jagr and Lang. Pittsburgh would be facing the New Jersey Devils in the conference finals, but they relished the victory on the ice.
(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings
The power play teams for both clubs were not extraordinary, but the goalkeeping was. The Kings' save percentage over the seven games was 92 (179 shots saved out of 196), and the Avalanche's save percentage was 95 (165 shots saved out of 175). The power play for the Kings scored 3 goals out of 30 opportunities (10%), and the Avalanche scored 5 goals on 36 chances (13%).
Despite 37 shots on goal against Kings goalkeeper Felix Potvin, the Avalanche lost their first game of the playoffs in Game 1. The teams traded goals in all three periods of play: Glen Murray had a goal for the Kings, and center Chris Drury scored a goal for the Avalanche in the first period. In the second period, Avalanche defenseman Rob Blake gave his team the lead until Nelson Emerson put one past Avalanche goalkeeper Roy to even it up at two goals apiece. Murray would score another goal for the Kings in the third period to give the Kings the lead, but center Peter Forsberg tied it up at three with a power play goal late in the third. In overtime, the Avalanche took two minor penalties, one of which led to the game-winning power play goal by Kings defenseman Jaroslav Modry.
The first period of game two featured only penalties and no goals. The second period was more exciting as Avalanche winger Ville Nieminen scored a power play goal to give his team the lead. Captain Joe Sakic put another goal past Potvin late in the third period to clinch the victory and tie the series at one game apiece. Patrick Roy stopped all 20 shots he faced, notching his 16th playoff shutout.
In Game 3, Rob Blake started the scoring as he launched the puck past Potvin, but Kings left winger Luc Robitaille tied the game at one goal apiece with a power play goal, and Forsberg tacked on another goal for the Avalanche in the second period. About halfway into the third period was when things started picking up speed: Avalanche winger Milan Hejduk scored to give his team a two-goal lead, but two minutes later Kings forward Glen Murray would score a powerplay goal to reduce the lead to just one goal for the Avalanche, and about 30 seconds after Murray's goal, Avalanche defenseman Jon Klemm scored his first goal of the playoffs to retake a two-goal lead for his club. In the final minute of the game, Kings winger Ziggy Palffy scored to cut the lead in half, but it was not enough as the Avalanche went on to win despite taking 11 fewer shots on goal than the Kings. Many credited the Avalanche victory to the poor officiating. In one instance, a linesman kicked the puck creating a two-on-one scoring opportunity that the Avalanche scored the game-winning goal on. Avalanche star Joe Sakic injured his shoulder in this game and would sit out part of the series. 
Game 4 highlighted Avalanche goalkeeper Patrick Roy at his best; he stopped all 21 shots against him and recorded his second shutout in the series. The was only scoring was in the second period: goals by Avalanche forwards Tanguay, Hejduk, and Drury. After losing the first game of the playoffs at home, the Avalanche won three straight, including two in Los Angeles.
Game 5 was a goalkeeper game featuring outstanding play from both Roy and Potvin. The game ended with one goal for Los Angeles courtesy of Luc Robitaille about halfway through the third period. 26 shots for the Kings and 20 for the Avalanche, but the goalkeeper battle in this game was only the beginning.
Despite 65 shots between both teams, only one goal was scored in Game 6. Kings winger Glen Murray. scored two minutes and fourteen seconds into the second overtime, and the Kings shut out Avalanche for the second straight game, making it eight consecutive periods. With this win, the Kings earned a Game 7 in Denver.
Game 7's first goal in the game came late in the first period when Avalanche defenseman Blake scored a power play goal to give his team a one-goal lead. The Kings' Nelson Emerson tied the game in the second period, but unfortunately for the Kings, the Avalanche accelerated away from Los Angeles in the third period. Chris Drury started off scoring for Colorado in the third period, followed by Nieminen, Shjon Podein, and Hejduk's empty net goal with about five minutes to go. Colorado scored twice on three power play opportunities in the game, and had ten more shots than the Kings. The Avalanche moved on to face the St. Louis Blues in the Conference Finals, knocking the Kings out by a score of 5-1. 
Both Power Play squads were not efficient. The Stars' powerplay team scored 1 goal on 17 chances (5.8%), and the Blues' powerplay team also scored 1 goal but on 16 chances (6.2%). The goaltending for St. Louis' Roman Turek had the series of his life, saving 106 shots out of 112 (94.7%). Stars goaltender Ed Belfour could not match Turek, stopping only 113 shots out of 126 (90%).
In game one, St. Louis and Dallas exchanged goals 53 seconds apart, the first by Blues center Pavol Demitra, and the response goal came from unassisted from Dallas' John MacLean. Marty Reasoner would score the go-ahead goal late in the first to give the Blues a lead going into the second period. St. Louis' offense picked apart the Dallas defense, and they piled on the goals in the second, with a goal by Reasoner on a 2-on-1 break along with a goal by center Pierre Turgeon on a 3-on-2 break. Dallas Stars defenceman Brad Lukowich would score the only other goal for Dallas, also unassisted. Dallas Stars star center Mike Modano injured his leg in game one, and he would not return in the series.
Marty Reasoner scored an even-strength goal less than two minutes into game two to give the Blues an early lead. This goal was set up by a turnover at the Dallas blue line by Darryl Sydor leading to a 2-on-none breakaway featuring Keith Tkachuk and Reasoner. Right winger Scott Young's shorthanded goal in the middle of the first period would expand the lead to two goals. The second period featured no goals, but Dallas would try and make a comeback with less than one minute in the game when Joe Nieuwendyk scored. That goal would be the only one they would put past Roman Turek who shone for the second consecutive game. St. Louis went into Dallas and stole two home games away from the Stars, so the pressure was on the Stars to rebound and steal one back in St. Louis.
Dallas came out in game three and left winger Mike Keane scored the opening goal. Stars right winger Brett Hull opened the second-period scoring with a Power Play goal of his own, but St. Louis left winger Jochen Hecht would cut the Dallas lead in half after flipping an Al MacInnis slap shot rebound into the open side of the net. Nevertheless, the Stars maintained the lead entering the final period. The Stars fended off the Blues offense well for more than 17 minutes of the third period, but then Blues defenseman Alexander Khavanov scored to even the game at two goals apiece. The two teams battled through 20 scoreless minutes of overtime, leading to the first double overtime of the playoff year. Blues hero Cory Stillman scored the game-winning goal on a slap shot from the top of the right circle after receiving a pass from Scott Mellanby nearly halfway through the period, giving the Blues the victory and would be an insurmountable three-game advantage in the series.
The first period of game four featured no goals, only penalties. St. Louis put the first marker up on the board in the second period as defenseman Khavanov scored a 4-on-4 goal on the rebound of a Pierre Turgeon breakaway chance. About five minutes later, Keith Tkachuk scored a Power Play goal on the rebound of a MacInnis slap shot to give the Blues a two-goal cushion. Joe Nieuwendyk responded with a goal late in the second period, but in the long run, it turned out to be futile. St. Louis poured it on in the third period with two more goals, one by defenseman Chris Pronger and an empty-net goal by Scott Young. The Dallas Stars were the higher seed by one position, but the Blues, on the strength of former Dallas Star Roman Turek's goaltending, played their best hockey of the season. The series was only the second of the playoff season to see only four games (the other being a first-round Avalanche-Canucks series). The Stars could not overcome Turek, who lived up to his "Large" nickname, when they needed to most and were swept out of the playoffs for the first time since 1984, when they were known as the Minnesota North Stars.
(1) New Jersey Devils vs. (6) Pittsburgh Penguins
Devils center Petr Sykora scored a pair of goals in the opening game of the finals in New Jersey. The one that mattered, the game-winning goal, came in the second period when he put the puck past Johan Hedberg to break the 1-goal tie. Pittsburgh came out fast, though, as Martin Straka scored the first goal a little over three minutes into the contest. The Devils scored three unanswered goals, one in each period, following Straka's powerplay goal.
In game two, the Devils came out firing in the first period, scoring twice in the first period and holding the Penguins to only seven shots, none of which got past Martin Brodeur. Wingman Jay Pandolfo scored an even-handed goal, while Petr Sykora scored one short-handed in the first period. But the Devils would give it up: the Penguins scored three goals in the second half of the second period to give the Pittsburgh team the first lead of the game. Aleksey Morozov stole back a goal when he scored a short-handed goal at about halfway through period two. Winger Alexei Kovalev and teammate Corbet also scored to cap off a three-goal second period; Mario Lemieux assisted on the goals by Morozov and Kovalev. Robert Lang would score early in the third period to cushion the Penguins lead, and the Penguins came out on top, stealing a game on the road.
New Jersey dominated Pittsburgh in game three. Brian Rafalski and Jason Arnott scored in the first period, while the Devils defense didn't allow any goals. Goalkeeper Brodeur was a brick wall all game though. The second period featured back and forth play without any goals. Patrik Elias scored in the first two minutes of the third period and put the icing on the cake. As good as Brodeur was with a shutout on 20 shots, Johan Hedberg was arguably better, saving 33 shots out of 36. The shutout was Brodeur's eleventh career in the postseason, and it was also the first time the Penguins were shut out at home in the postseason since 1975. The Devils had the momentum they needed to win game four.
Game four was a blowout. Patrik Elias scored late in the first period to give the Devils a one-goal lead going into the second period, but they would pour it on. Rafalski and Sykora scored in the second, and Arnott scored an unassisted goal in the third while Rafalski netted his second of the game with a powerplay goal. The Penguins didn't score in the game, and the team didn't register ten shots in any one period, but Martin Brodeur was dominant in the net with his second consecutive shut out. The Devils claimed an opportunity to close the series out in New Jersey in game five.
In just under a minute, winger Jason Arnott scored the first goal in game five, and it looked like the Devils were going to dominate in game five as much as they did in game four. Morozov countered the goal with one of his own late in the period, and the game was knotted at a goal apiece going into the second period. Arnott was not done, however, because he would score the first goal of the second period on the powerplay and reclaim the lead for his team. Bobby Holik added to Arnott's goal, and the Devils took a temporary, two-goal lead. Martin Straka scored shortly after Holik's goal to put the Penguins at only a one-goal deficit going into the third period. Early in the third period, though, the Devils would quash any hopes of a comeback when John Madden slapped the puck past Hedberg to give the Devils another two-goal lead. They would eventually hold onto the lead and win the series. As for the Penguins, they would go on to miss the playoffs every year until the Sidney Crosby era started.
(1) Colorado Avalanche vs. (4) St. Louis Blues
Colorado was forced to play the remainder of the playoffs without one of their top stars, Peter Forsberg, because he underwent surgery to remove a ruptured spleen.
Joe Sakic was the hero in game one when he scored two of the team's four goals, one of which he scored on a penalty shot awarded when Blues goaltender Roman Turek was ruled to have thrown his stick. Hejduk started the scoring in the game, though, with a power play goal at the fourth minute of the first period. The Blues responded very early in the second period when Scott Young scored an unassisted, shorthanded breakaway goal. It turned out to be the only goal for the Blues in game one. The Avalanche scored two more goals, and the Blues lost game one by three goals, 4–1.
Colorado defenseman Ray Bourque opened scoring four seconds into a power play in the first period of game two. Blues wingman Mellanby scored a Power Play goal on a perfect mid-air deflection of an Al MacInnis wrist shot in the second period to tie the game at a goal apiece. At the 18th minute, though, Colorado defenseman Adam Foote shot the puck past Roman Turek to give Colorado a one-goal lead going into the third period. Colorado scored two more goals in the third period, and St. Louis scored one more, which gave the Avalanche the 4–2 win over the Blues.
Two power play goals opened the action between the Blues and Avalanche in game three. St. Louis winger Demitra scored the first goal, and Colorado defenseman Bourque scored soon after to even the game. Shortly before the halfway point of the first period, Dan Hinote broke the 1–1 tie. The two teams amassed 26 minutes of penalty time in the first period and 14 more minutes in the second period. Period two featured no goals. Halfway through the third period, Blues winger Mellanby evened the score up at two apiece on a 2-on-1 break, scoring his third goal of the playoffs. Avalanche winger Eric Messier and Blues player Jamal Mayers each scored in the third period, and the tie resulted in overtime. The first overtime featured no goals or any penalties. The second overtime, though, featured the game-winning goal by Blues winger Scott Young halfway through the period on a wrist shot from the slot that beat Roy. The Blues took almost twice as many shots as the Avalanche in game three: 60 shots for St. Louis and only 33 for Colorado. Patrick Roy was lauded by Avalanche head coach Bob Hartley after the loss: “Patrick is strong, and he's giving us a chance to win every game.” 
Within one minute and 18 seconds, Colorado scored three goals against Turek and the Blues in game four. The scoring spree began in the 14th minute of the first period. The Avalanche club was in prime position to win on the road going into the second period with a three-goal lead. St. Louis center Pierre Turgeon had other plans, and he scored two consecutive goals for the Blues in a five-minute span just before the 10th minute. Blues winger Jamal Mayers tied things up in the third period in under a minute. Within five minutes of the overtime's start, Avalanche winger Stephane Yelle won the game for his club on a deflection shot.
The first period of game five featured some minor penalties and no goals. Avalanche winger Milan Hejduk broke the tie in the second period with a Power Play goal, his seventh of the playoffs. Shortly after, Blues defenseman Bryce Salvador evened the game with a goal. The third period featured no goals. Less than half a minute into the overtime, Avalanche center Joe Sakic scored the game-winning, series-clinching Power Play goal.
The Stanley Cup Finals series featured an ideal scenario: the two top seeds from each conference.
Colorado center Joe Sakic scored his 10th and 11th goal of the playoffs in the first and second periods of game one. The Avalanche smothered the New Jersey defense and scored five goals in the game. The Devils did not score any goals, and in the third period, after the game was 5–0, things culminated in a fistfight between the Avalanche's Chris Dingman and the Devils' Sean O'Donnell. The third period had a total tally of 44 penalty minutes accumulated by both clubs.
Game two started with goals in the first period by Colorado's Sakic, New Jersey's Bob Corkum and N.J.'s Turner Stevenson. The 2–1 lead by the Devils held throughout the game as they defeated the Avalanche to even the series at one game apiece. The Devils victory would be important because the team stole home-ice advantage from the Colorado club.
Game three, in New Jersey, Devils center Jason Arnott scored an early power-play goal, but in the 10th minute, the Avalanche evened the score when Martin Skoula found the back of the net. Neither team scored any goals in the second period. Early in the third, however, Colorado defenceman Ray Bourque scored a power-play goal to break the tie. Five minutes later, Colorado winger Dan Hinote scored the team's third goal, and the Devils didn't respond. The win by Colorado marked another road win in the series, shifting the home-ice advantage back to Colorado.
In the first period of game four, Colorado scored an early goal when Rob Blake shot the puck past Devils goalkeeper Martin Brodeur. Patrik Elias and New Jersey responded when he scored a short-handed goal to even the score at one goal apiece. Later in the second, though, Avalanche center Chris Drury scored to give the Avalanche a one-goal lead going into the third period. But the third period belonged to the Devils: Scott Gomez and Petr Sykora each scored a goal in the third, and Brodeur stopped every puck that went his way. The New Jersey offense overwhelmed the Avalanche defense as they managed 35 shots. Colorado managed only 12 shots. New Jersey again evened the series, this time at two games apiece.
Back in Colorado for game five, Devils forward Patrik Elias started the scoring for the Devils as they jumped out to an early one-goal lead. Precisely seven minutes following that goal, Colorado winger Alex Tanguay tied the game when he scored a power-play goal, but in the late minutes of the first period, New Jersey forward Alexander Mogilny scored the goal that wound up winning the game for the Devils. In the second period, Devils forward Sergei Brylin scored a power-play goal to give the Devils a two-goal lead, and in the third period, center John Madden piled a fourth goal onto the Devils' scoreboard. The Devils won and reclaimed the home-ice advantage. They forced the Avalanche to try to win on the road to force a seventh game in Denver.
The sixth game paralleled the first game for the Colorado Avalanche. The Devils tested the Avalanche early with a barrage of shots on Patrick Roy. After stopping them all, and with two minutes remaining in the first period, Colorado defenceman Adam Foote scored an unassisted goal to give the Avalanche the lead on just their fourth shot. Early in the second period, Avalanche winger Ville Nieminen scored a power-play goal, and late in the second period, Drury scored his 11th goal of the playoffs to give the Avalanche a commanding lead going into the third period. Alex Tanguay scored the only goal of the third period, and the Avalanche won to force a seventh game in Denver for the Stanley Cup. Despite Colorado's high number of penalty minutes, the Devils were unable to put anything past Colorado goalie Patrick Roy.
Around the eighth minute of game seven, the Avalanche started the scoring when Alex Tanguay smacked the puck past Brodeur, and New Jersey trailed going into the second period by a goal. The Colorado club scored two consecutive goals in the second period: another by Tanguay, his sixth of the playoffs, and a power-play goal scored by Sakic, his 13th of the playoffs. Shortly after Sakic's goal, though, Petr Sykora and the Devils sprang into life when he scored a power-play goal. It left the Devils with only two goals to overcome, but Roy and the Avalanche would prove too much for the Devils in the third period as Colorado defensively shut the door on New Jersey to win the game and the series.
Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic led the playoffs in scoring for the second time in his career. He scored 13 goals and amassed 26 points. Patrik Elias of the New Jersey Devils finished second in playoff scoring with 23 points. He led the playoffs in assists with 14.