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Stars beat Sabres 2-1

Nieuwendyk rises to occasion, scores twice for Dallas

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Posted: Saturday June 12, 1999 11:03 PM

  Buffalo's Wayne Primeau (left) sizes up Dallas goalie Ed Belfour during the first period. AP

BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNN/SI) -- Joe Nieuwendyk made a bid for most valuable player of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals Saturday night.

Nieuwendyk scored his second goal with 10:25 left in the game, beating Dominik Hasek high, to give the determined Dallas Stars a 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

The Stars take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, despite being hampered by injuries and playing on the Sabres home ice. Game 4 is Tuesday in Buffalo.

With 4:27 left in the second period, Nieuwendyk poked his own rebound past Hasek to give the Stars a 1-1 tie with the Sabres at the second intermission.

The tying goal came almost eight minutes after Stu Barnes took a Richard Smehlik pass and slapped a shot past the Stars' Eddie Belfour as the Sabres drew first blood.

The Stars and Sabres had been scoreless after the first period, in line with the defensive, hard-checking trend of the first two Stanley Cup games.

The Stars' penalty-killers and overall defense played a big part in the period, allowing the Sabres only three shots despite power-play time totaling 5:45.

In the first two games in Dallas, the teams combined for just three goals in the first two periods.

Mike Modano, despite an injured left wrist, was in the lineup for the Stars.

But Brett Hull, who has scored seven goals during the playoffs, left the ice early in the first period after taking a hit in the neutral zone. He had not returned to the game well into the second period.

Hull, one of the Dallas Stars' top scorers, strained a groin muscle and the team said he would not return.

Hull played only about two minutes of the first period, taking a big hit from Buffalo's Alexei Zhitnik.

Hull has seven goals and seven assists in 19 playoff games, including two goals in the first two games of the finals. He scored the game-winner in the Stars' 4-2 victory on Thursday night.

Modano's wrist has been the hot topic in Buffalo for the past couple days, and his appearance in the lineup was still a question mark until game time.

The Stars' top all-around player had his wrist injured when hit by Buffalo's Jay McKee in Game 2 on Thursday night, and there was speculation of a fracture. Modano said during a news conference Saturday about eight hours before the game that it was a "bad bruise" and indicated that he was leaning toward playing but would decide after the pre-game skate.

Modano, who said he would wear a cast to protect the injured wrist, was in the starting lineup, but not in his accustomed position. Usually a center, Modano started at left wing on a line with right wing Jere Lehtinen and center Joe Nieuwendyk.

Later, it was business as usual for Modano, who reverted to center and took faceoffs while also playing on the penalty-killing unit. Modano was featured on a penalty-killing unit that held the Sabres to one shot on two consecutive power plays totaling 3:58.

The Sabres also had a two-man advantage for the last 1:14 of the first period, but failed to register a shot.

Modano's wrist injury was the biggest story line of the day, but not the only one. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff inserted Rob Ray into the lineup for the first time in the finals to put some muscle into the lineup.

The idea was to help protect goaltender Dominik Hasek, who has complained about being pushed around by Stars skaters.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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