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Notebook

Stars-Sabres close to setting overtime record

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Posted: Sunday June 20, 1999 03:13 AM

  Leg room: Hopefully there's enough room for Coach Ken Hitchcock to relax before the Stars try to close out the Sabres in Game 6.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- The Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres came close to making history when their Stanley Cup finals Game 6 ended with 5:09 left in the third overtime on Saturday night.

As it was, the 54:51 elapsed time finished second to a game played by Edmonton and Boston in the 1990 finals. Their record: 55:13 with the Oilers winning 3-2.

Working overtime

The Sabres' loss was their first in three overtimes in this year's playoffs. The Stars improved to 4-4 in OT games.

Stanley Cup Stat

Saturday night's game marked the 26th time in 61 years that the Stanley Cup finals went to a Game 6 since the best-of-7 format was established.

Hitchcock nervous before games

Ken Hitchcock doesn't look it, but he's extremely nervous before games.

"Coaches are like ducks," the colorful Dallas Stars coach said. "Calm on top, but paddling underneath. Believe me, there's a lot of leg movement."

Hitchcock, patient and introspective with the media, said he would relax before Saturday night's Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals by watching a sports event on television.

"Thank God the U.S. Open is on," he said, "I'd be a nut case."

A real cut-up

The media has grabbed hold of all the talk about "dirty" play between the teams in the Stanley Cup finals and given it a good ride.

Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who has accused the Stars of using their sticks like hatchets, among other things, was ready to parry with the media again Saturday.

When asked what he thought about all the fuss, including a photo of Sabres captain Mike Peca "grimacing," Ruff responded: "I think they're trying to motivate us again. They took 48 pictures and caught him with a grimace, and used that."

Signing on

Sign in the Dallas Stars' locker room before Saturday night's Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals:

"We will either find a way, or make a way."

Startling Stat

The defenses have been great in the finals, starting with goaltender Dominik Hasek of Buffalo and Ed Belfour of Dallas.

But the goalie with the best save percentage in the playoffs isn't in the finals. He's Philadelphia's John Vanbiesbrouck, with a .938 percentage.

Hasek was at .937 and Belfour at .925 prior to Saturday night's game.

Sign of the times

The Buffalo Sabres are in the prayers of their fans, and it's visible. A sign on a road near the Marine Midland Arena:

"Oh, Lord Stanley, hear our prayer. For too many years, our CUPboard's been bare."

The Sabres are seeking their first Stanley Cup. They reached the finals only once in their history, in 1975.

New depths

The Dallas Stars would break new ground by winning the Stanley Cup. Not only will they bring a championship to the franchise for the first time, but they would become the southernmost team in the league to do it.

The Colorado Avalanche have that distinction now.

Ruff's option

Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said his team had a "modified" optional skate Saturday.

Modified?

"Yes," he said, "some guys had an option and some guys didn't."

Keane observation

Dallas' Mike Keane on the lack of scoring in the finals, the lowest goal total since 1947:

"Every fan would like to see a 20-19 game, but you're not going to see that. If we won 1-0, I'd be happy."

Two screamers

Coaches Lindy Ruff of Buffalo and Ken Hitchcock of Dallas have become favorites of the media at the Stanley Cup finals with their quick and ready wit.

There was one moment between them, though, where neither felt like being humorous. That happened at the end of Game 5 in Dallas Thursday night when a lot of animosity surfaced between the teams after a bitterly-fought contest.

"I didn't know what it was all about," Ruff said. "Hitch came off the bench screaming. I decided to scream back. Then he screamed back at me and I screamed back at him.

"I asked him if he wanted some water, and he said, 'No.' "

Warming up

Even though Dallas isn't what is considered a hockey hotbed, Stars forward Mike Modano says fans "have come around" since the team moved from Minnesota.

"We knew it was only a matter of time," Modano said of selling the sport in a warm-weather site. "A lot of northerners have moved down [and] we have a lot of fans who have grown to love the game.

"They love the Cowboys there, and they love winners."

The Stars have sold out 49 straight games.

 
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