Tip-in by Kozlov leaves Wings a win from Finals Stars unable to control made-for-TV puck, come up short, 3-2, after rally

June 01, 1998|By NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

DETROIT -- Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman talked a blue streak about a blue streak yesterday, even though the technology he decried contributed to the game-winning goal in Detroit's 3-2 victory over Dallas in Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference finals.

The Stars rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit to tie the game, but with 8: 30 remaining, Dallas center Brian Skrudland could not control a bouncing puck on a dump-in. Steve Yzerman swooped up left wing with the loose puck on a four-on-three, and the play was polished off neatly by Vyacheslav Kozlov's picture-perfect tip-in of Larry Murphy's pass.

Players like New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch have previously complained of the special Fox Trax pucks, which contain chips that produce those blue and red comet tails on TV screens. The Fox pucks chill to a different consistency than regular pucks.

"The ice conditions weren't great, but the puck was bouncing all over the place," said Bowman, whose team will take a 3-1 series lead into Dallas Wednesday night. "I hope the NHL is researching this puck. They tell me they can't freeze it, it's got chips in it. If that's the case, it's not good enough.

"The puck bounces like a ball. If it's only to make a blue streak on the puck, if that's going to make the NHL live for the next 25 years, then I've got to be happy because I've got a pension coming."

With a chance for a second straight Stanley Cup at hand, do not start up an immediate collection for the Detroit coach's gold watch. At least Skrudland didn't join in on the Fox knocks.

"When the puck bounces when it's on my stick, it's not the result of the puck," said Skrudland, who is not among the league's elite puck handlers.

Stars goalie Ed Belfour robbed his team of a chance to win in the first period, then robbed the Red Wings with a huge save in the second period to give Dallas a chance.

After Kirk Maltby's short-handed goal at 7: 02 gave Detroit a 1-0 lead, Belfour, with his team already short-handed, put the Red Wings two men up for 39 seconds when he tripped Martin Lapointe as Lapointe was trying to screen.

Yzerman scored on the Belfour penalty for a 2-0 lead.

But Belfour made an enormous save on Tomas Holmstrom 7: 14 into the second, and Dallas right wing Pat Verbeek scored his first goal in 13 playoff games at 14: 31 to cut the margin in half. Just 55 seconds into the third period, Sergei Zubov scored Dallas' first power play goal of the series on a seeing-eye shot to tie it, but Detroit goalie Chris Osgood prevented any further damage."

Injured defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov, whose tough defense played a major role in helping the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup last year, watched from a private suite. Konstantinov had not watched his teammates play at Joe Louis Arena since the June 13 limousine accident that ended his career.

His presence was acknowledged only with an announcement on the public address system, during a timeout with 10: 34 left in the first period.

But that was enough to trigger a thunderous 95-second ovation.

"It was very emotional," Detroit forward Igor Larionov said. "When you hear all those people cheer, those people who love him. I was deeply touched when I saw his picture up on the screen."

Pub Date: 6/01/98

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