Sabres stop Stars on Woolley OT goal

3-2 win gives Buffalo home-ice advantage


DALLAS -- Ed Belfour, the Dallas goalie, goes by the nickname the Eagle, and he wears the image of the bird on his head gear. Dominik Hasek, the Buffalo goalie known as the Dominator, wears an old-fashioned mask often called a "bird cage."

This aviary rivalry goes back a decade, and Hasek flew highest last night in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Finals as his Sabres stunned the Stars, 3-2, in overtime at Reunion Arena.

The winning goal was scored by Jason Woolley at 15: 30 of the extra session after Hasek made two stunning saves.

Woolley scored on a wrist shot from the slot that beat Belfour after taking a feed from Curtis Brown.

He may have taken the Stars by surprise.

"I just came off the bench, said Woolley, who has scored four playoff goals. "I think I snuck up on them a little bit. In overtime, you just want to shoot. I got lucky and it went in. I didn't know how to react."

Hasek stopped 35 shots and seemed weary in overtime, remaining on the ice long after making saves and lying prone after Woolley's winning goal. But Hasek said he felt no effects of the groin injury that kept him out of two games of the Eastern Conference finals against Toronto.

Last night's game mixed excellent goaltending, hard hitting, wonderful tension and most of the elements that display hockey at its best.

The Sabres finished a lowly seventh seed in the weaker East. Dallas finished first in the Western Conference and first overall in the 27-team National ockey League. Although the Stars must still be considered the favored team, a Buffalo surprise seems like a more realistic possibility after last night's events.

"I was too tired; I couldn't even go to the other side," Hasek said, referring to the celebration around Woolley. "This building is so hot. I made a save on [Pat] Verbeek, I kicked up my leg and all of a sudden I felt a cramp in my hip."

Lindy Ruff, the Buffalo coach, made a reference to his team's underdog status and the fact that the Eastern Conference representative has been swept the last three seasons. "The good thing is we can't get swept now," Ruff said. "We just won one for the East."

Derian Hatcher, the captain of the Stars, said his team will "have to make it tougher on Dominik."

"I think we shot a lot of pucks right at him," Hatcher said. "We like to do things the hard way. We have dropped Game 1's before. We're confident we can come back again.

The Stars led for most of the game, but Buffalo tied it at 1-1 at 8: 33 of the third period on a goal by Stu Barnes, who fired from the slot to beat Belfour. This came while the Sabres skated with an extra attacker because they had pulled Hasek during a delayed penalty to Dallas.

The Sabres went up by 2-1 on a goal by Wayne Primeau, who camped in front of the crease on the power play and knocked in a rebound with a backhanded shot at 13: 37. But Dallas tied it at 2-2 at 19: 11 on a goal by Jere Lehtinen, who took a centering pass from Mike Modano after Buffalo's checking center, Mike Peca, lost his stick behind the Sabres' net.

The Stars dominated the first two periods but emerged with only a 1-0 lead despite a 23-9 edge in shots on goal. Brett Hull scored with one second left in a power play, firing a one-time slap shot from high in the Buffalo zone after passes from Modano and Lehtinen at 10: 17 of the first period.

Hasek, who missed two games in the previous series against Toronto with a groin injury, seemed to be in fine form. When Jon Sim of Dallas took an extra whack at the puck after Hasek made a save, the goalie reacted angrily, and so did several of his teammates. During the ensuing multiplayer scrum, Brian Skrudland of the Stars hit Vaclav Varada of the Sabres in the face with a butt of his helmeted head. No penalty was called.

Buffalo 0 0 2 1 -- 3

Dallas 1 0 1 0 -- 2

First period--1, Dallas, Hull 6 (Modano, Lehtinen), 10: 17 (pp). Penalties--Zubov, Dal (roughing), 6: 36; Satan, Buf (boarding), 8: 18; Patrick, Buf, double minor (high-sticking), 12: 46; Ward, Buf (interference), 19: 11.

Second period--None. Penalties--Varada, Buf (goalie interference), 4: 53; Zhitnik, Buf (interference), 7: 07; Ward, Buf (roughing), 9: 34; Ludwig, Dal (hooking), 12: 21; Matvichuk, Dal (interference), 16: 33.

Third period--2, Buffalo, Barnes 5 (Juneau, Smehlik), 8: 33. 3, Buffalo, Primeau 3 (Zhitnik, Smehlik), 13: 37 (pp). 4, Dallas, Lehtinen 8 (Modano, Zubov), 19: 11. Penalties--Sydor, Dal (ob.-tripping), 12: 10; McKee, Buf (charging), 14: 17.

Overtime--5, Buffalo, Woolley 4 (Brown), 15: 30. Penalties--Zhitnik, Buf (hooking), 6: 41; Sanderson, Buf (boarding), 9: 06.

Shots on goal--Buffalo 5-4-10-5--24. Dallas 11-12-7-7--37. Power-play opportunities--Buffalo 1 of 4; Dallas 1 of 10. Goalies--Buffalo, Hasek 12-2 (37 shots-35 saves). Dallas, Belfour 12-6 (24-21). A--17,001 (16,928).

Stanley Cup Finals

Buffalo vs. Dallas (Buffalo leads series 1-0)

Yesterday: Buff. 3, Dal. 2, OT

Tomorrow: at Dallas, 8 (45, 5)

Sat.: at Buffalo, 8 (ESPN)

Tue.: at Buffalo, 8 (ESPN)

June 17: at Dallas, 8 (45, 5)*

June 19: at Buff., 8 (ESPN)*

June 22: at Dallas, 8 (45, 5)*

*-If necessary

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