Masters of Game 1 upset, North Stars try to avoid familiar letdown

May 17, 1991|By Knight-Ridder

PITTSBURGH -- The Minnesota North Stars are well aware that they have developed a certain pattern in their march to the Stanley Cup final.

In each of the three previous rounds, they have started on the road and won the first game. It happened at Chicago, at St. Louis and at Edmonton. And it happened Wednesday night at Pittsburgh in Game 1 of the best-of-seven finals.

But in each of the three previous rounds, they have come up short in Game 2. It happened at Chicago, at St. Louis and at Edmonton. And they want to make darn sure that it doesn't happen again here tonight in Game 2 against the Penguins.

"We can expect Pittsburgh to come out with its best game," Minnesota coach Bob Gainey said yesterday afternoon. "We have seen that from each of the other teams. Every other team played their best game in Game 2. We, in turn, did not meet the challenge. We talked about that today. I think we have a feeling for the emotion we will be facing."

North Stars players seemed to agree that the Penguins will come out strong.

"It will be tough," left wing Brian Bellows said. "They're under a lot of pressure, plus they still have the home ice. They definitely want to get that second game."

But this Game 2 could be different simply because Game 1 was different. Yes, the result was the same as in each of the other series. But the North Stars opened each of those previous three series with convincing victories. After Wednesday night's 5-4 victory, many of the North Stars thought they could have played much better. And they will be out to prove that tonight.

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