The NHL adopted a new method of computing its standings. A team would get 1 point for an overtime loss, the same as for a tie. Partly as a result, seven teams had 100 or more points.
The top two regular-season teams were both in the Western Conference's Central Division, where the St. Louis Blues led the way with 114 points and the Detroit Red Wings had 108 to finish second. The Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference had the next two teams and the closest race for first place. The Philadelphia Flyers won it with 105 points to 103 for the New Jersey Devils.
Two other teams had 102 points each, the Dallas Stars in the Pacific Division and the Washington Capitals in the Southeast Division. Toronto led the Northeast Division with an even 100 points and the Colorado Avalanche had 96 points to lead the Northwest Division.
Jaromir Jagr of Pittsburgh was the NHL's top scorer for the third year in a row and the fourth time overall with 96 points, just 2 ahead of Florida's Pavel Bure, who led the league with 58 goals. Mark Recchi of Philadelphia finished third in scoring and had a league-leading 63 assists.
The San Jose Sharks shocked St. Louis with a seven-game victory in the first round of the playoffs, and they were then eliminated in five games by the Dallas Stars, the defending Stanley Cup champions. Colorado advanced to the Western Conference finals with a five-game win over Detroit. Despite being shut out twice by Colorado's Patrick Roy, the Stars won a seven-game series to move on to the Stanley Cup finals.
The New Jersey Devils were the unlikely Eastern Conference champions. With only eight games left in the season, Larry Robinson had replaced Robbie Ftorek as the team's head coach. The Devils could manage only a 4-4 record after the change, and their playoff hopes looked slim.
But Robinson gave the team a new defensive focus. They swept Florida in the first round, giving up only 6 goals, and got two shutouts from Martin Brodeur in a six-game semifinal win over Toronto. Then they came up against the Flyers, who had won four in a row over Pittsburgh after losing the first two games of the series. The second of those wins went into the fifth overtime before Keith Primeau fired a wrist shot past Ron Tugnutt to end it. It was the third longest game in NHL history.
The Devils fell behind the Flyers, 3-1, but then won three in a row, giving up just 1 goal in each of those victories. Then they took a 3-1 lead over Dallas in the Stanley Cup championship series. The Stars pulled out a win in the third overtime of Game 5 at New Jersey and the Devils came right back with a win in the second overtime of Game 6 at Dallas to take the cup.