Hearing from Hull
Stars beat Sabres 4-2, even series at 1 game apiece
Posted: Friday June 11, 1999 01:57 AM
Hull, who was afraid he might never see the Stanley Cup finals again, zapped the winning goal for Dallas with 2:50 remaining, and the Stars staved off a potentially lethal loss by beating Buffalo 4-2 Thursday night to even the series at one game apiece.
Hull, one of the NHL's top scorers for years but absent from the Stanley Cup finals since his rookie year in 1986, beat Dominik Hasek with a slap shot from above the right circle dot.
"Where he put it was unstoppable," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "Dom might have had a chance, but a defenseman or Michael Peca slid in front of him and he didn't see it. It was just a perfect shot."
The Stars almost had to win, as only three clubs in the last 60 years have rallied to win the Stanley Cup after losing the first two games.
"We just we knew we had to win this game. It's like a Game 7 for us," Hull said.
Now, the Stars have the momentum heading into Game 3 Saturday night at Marine Midland Arena. The team that has won Game 2 has won 26 of the past 28 Stanley Cups, including every team in the last 10 years.
Hull's goal capped a determined Dallas comeback after the heavily favored Stars were contained by the Sabres' smothering defense for two periods, only to bury Buffalo with a 19-4 shot advantage in the final period.
They also took several shots at Hasek when he strayed from the crease, including one by Mike Modano that was labeled a "cheap shot" by Ruff.
"We were desperate tonight," the Stars' Joe Nieuwendyk said. "Once you get one or two by him, your confidence grows a little bit."
Dallas salvaged a 1-1 tie in the series at home despite being 1-for-17 on the power play, 0-6 in Game 2.
The Stars' victory assures the Stanley Cup playoffs won't end in a sweep for the first time in five years. Western Conference teams had scored the last three sweeps, by Detroit in 1998 and 1997 and Colorado in 1996.
This series seems so close so far, even seven games might not be enough to decide the true winner.
"I've never seen two teams play with a passion like these two did," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said.
"There's going to be no runaway here," Ruff said. "It's going to be a roller-coaster ride. Nobody said this was going to be a four- or five-game series."
Still, the victory extracted a potentially costly price. Dallas played the final 10 minutes without Modano, who injured a wrist. He is listed as day-to-day, but will be re-examined Friday.
"He is not out for the series, hopefully," Hitchcock said. "The doctors want to see if it is something that settles down."
Even at the end, Dallas had to fight to preserve the lead, killing off a rare late-game power play resulting from Derian Hatcher's high-sticking penalty at 17:31. Hatcher made up for his mistake, scoring into an empty net at 19:34.
The Sabres, trying to put a 2-0 stranglehold on the series before playing at home, fell behind 2-1 despite dominating the first two periods, then tied it on Alexei Zhitnik's power-play goal at 5:36 of the third.
It was a lethal combination for the two-time defending NHL regular-season champion Stars -- Darryl Sydor in the box and Buffalo on the power play.
Less than 30 seconds after Craig Ludwig put Dallas up 2-1 with his first goal in 102 playoff games, Curtis Brown grabbed the puck near the left circle when Dallas couldn't clear, carried it into the high slot and shot.
The puck glanced off goaltender Ed Belfour and to Zhitnik for his fourth power-play goal and the Sabres' third in a row with Sydor in the penalty box. Sydor also was off for hooking when Peca scored the first goal of the game at 7:27 of the second period.
Ludwig, an unlikely scorer for the most veteran team in these playoffs, scored 71 seconds before Zhitnik's goal with a slap shot from the left circle immediately after Brian Skrudlund won a faceoff.
Buffalo, which allowed Dallas to dominate for the first two periods in Game 1 before rallying for a 3-2 victory, came out much more aggressively on defense in Game 2 and permitted only six shots in the first 32 minutes.
The defensive diligence, typical of how the seventh-seeded Sabres have played throughout the playoffs, paid off in a 1-0 lead on Peca's goal.
Peca, one of the NHL's top defensive forwards, made a heady offensive play to score his fifth playoff goal. With Belfour anticipating a shot from the right point, Peca sneaked behind the Dallas goaltender and waved his stick in the air to signal he was open about two feet to the side of the net.
Jason Woolley alertly fed the puck to Peca, who one-timed it past Belfour with 14 seconds remaining on Sydor's hooking penalty.
Woolley, cast off by both Florida and Pittsburgh, scored the game-winning goal at 15:30 of overtime in Game 1 and leads all defensemen in playoff scoring with 15 points.
Slightly less than two minutes later, Woolley took an interference penalty to take out Dallas defenseman Richard Matvichuk on a 3-on-1 break and possibly prevent the tying goal.
Dallas didn't score on that power play, making the Stars 1-for-14 with the man advantage in the series to that point. But Jamie Langenbrunner tied it with 1:34 left in the period by getting his stick on Matvichuk's unguarded slap shot from the top of left circle -- his playoff-leading 10th goal.
The goal was especially significant because Buffalo is 8-0 in the playoffs when taking a lead into the third period.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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