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Two games for one

National | Fans attending the first game of the second-round NHL playoffs at the American Airlines Center in Dallas got two games-and then some-for the price of one.

Issue: "No man's land," May 10, 2003

Fans attending the first game of the second-round NHL playoffs at the American Airlines Center in Dallas got two games-and then some-for the price of one. That's because it took five overtimes, for a total of eight 20-minute periods, to settle Game One between Anaheim and Dallas.

The end result of the marathon: The Mighty Ducks left with a victory and once again overtime proved to be the strangest and most exciting time in sports. Dallas, loaded with veteran talent, came into the series the overwhelming favorite. But as the evening wore on, veteran started looking old. Even Dallas center Mike Modano-one of the league's fastest-conserved energy unless he spotted open ice. And the officials even stopped calling most penalties. Even though Anaheim won, the Dallas crowd cheered both teams' efforts while Ducks right-winger Petr Sykora, who netted the game-winner, headed for the locker room for his seventh power bar of the night.

Hockey isn't alone in its marathons. By the time St. Louis Cardinal second baseman Fernando Vina came to the plate in the top of the 20th inning against the Florida Marlins on April 27, the slumping infielder had in one day dropped his season batting average 24 points down to .190. An 0-9 effort leading into his 20th inning at bat put Mr. Vina below the Mendoza Line-a downward departure point indicating when a slump turns into something more.

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But that's the beauty of extra innings: For slumpers like Mr. Vina, 20 innings is enough time to get hot. And he did with a game-winning RBI single. Said Mr. Vina: "I was battling as much as I could, still trying to get my rhythm. Who would have thought I would win the game?" Who would have thought the game would have lasted 20 innings?

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