Tragedy struck the league on January 14, 1968. In a game at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota , the Oakland Seals were in town to play the North Stars and Bill Masterton led a rush into the Oakland zone. Two defenceman, Larry Cahan and Ron Harris braced for the old fashioned sandwich check and as Masterton fired the puck into the Seals zone, the two hit Masterton hard but cleanly. Masterton flipped backwards and hit his head on the ice. He was removed to a Minneapolis hospital where doctors were prevented from doing surgery by the seriousness of the head injury. Early on the morning of January 15, 1968, Bill Masterton died. He was the first player to die as the direct result of injuries suffered in an NHL game, the only such incident in a senior game since 1907.
In that 1991 season, despite a losing record in the regular season, the North Stars embarked on a Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals . They knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues (the top two teams in the NHL during the regular season) in six games each and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers in five games, making it to the finals for the second time in franchise history. The team fought hard against the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins , led by Mario Lemieux . They won two out of the first three contests before being obliterated 8-0 in Game 6 of the best-of-seven series. It was the most one-sided defeat in a deciding game of the Stanley Cup Finals since the original Ottawa Senators defeated the Dawson City Nuggets 23-2 in 1905.