Stars take 3-2 lead with defensive stand

Sabres stumble, 2-0, as Sydor, Verbeek score

June 18, 1999

DALLAS -- With a black-and-blue line and a touch of gray, the Dallas Stars are one victory away from Stanley Cup silver.

Darryl Sydor scored a power-play goal in the second period and the Stars, the oldest team in the playoffs, held off the Buffalo Sabres, 2-0, in yet another tightly played game last night for a 3-2 series lead in the Stanley Cup Finals.

"We're one win from the Stanley Cup, and I don't think anybody feels old," Stars right wing Mike Keane said.

With the Stars' Ed Belfour matching the better-known Dominik Hasek save for save in the closest Finals in years, the Stars can hoist their first cup by winning Game 6 tomorrow in Buffalo.

Belfour, who has a better save percentage in the playoffs than Hasek, stopped 23 shots in his best game of the series. Hasek, considered hockey's best goaltender but a backup to Belfour when Pittsburgh swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1992 Finals, made 19 saves but also gave up a third-period goal to Pat


Mike Modano assisted on both goals and also debuted a black-and-blue line for the black-and-green Stars with Brett Hull and Benoit Hogue. Modano has played with a serious wrist injury since Game 3, while Hogue has two torn knee ligaments and Hull missed Game 4 with a strained groin.

The Stars also constantly won big faceoffs, a key statistic dominated by the Sabres in the previous two games, with 39-year-old Guy Carbonneau taking many of the draws.

The Sabres, who lack the big names and big scorers of the Stars, have scored only eight goals in five games and now face big odds, too. No team has rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win the Stanley Cup since Montreal in 1971.

"This is so intense, the only confidence we have is we're up 3-2," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "There's no dominant player, no dominant area, it is absolutely a shift-by-shift battle. There's just no read on the series."

Said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff: "Our players believe they will be back here for Game 7."

The emotionally charged game ended with the coaches screaming at each after the Stars killed off a late Buffalo power play.

"I was yelling at him and he was yelling at me," Ruff said.

Belfour, whose playoff save percentage is better than Hasek's, stopped 23 shots in his best game of the series and third shutout of these playoffs.

"He's played in the shadow of a lot of goaltenders and I think he's taking advantage of this to do something," Sydor said.

Just like the previous four games, Game 5 featured exceptional goaltending, plenty of hitting and a scarcity of open-ice play. It all goes back to the goaltenders. Both Belfour and Hasek have goals-against averages under 2.00, the first time that's happened in a Finals since 1945.

This is the lowest-scoring series since 1947, when Toronto and Montreal also had only 19 goals through five games. Game 5 was only the second in the series decided by two goals; Dallas won Game 2 at home, 4-2.

Modano warned the Stars after the teams split 2-1 decisions in Buffalo that Dallas had to be prepared to win, 1-0.

The Stars almost did, taking a 1-0 lead deep into the third before Verbeek essentially iced the go-ahead victory by scoring at 15: 21.

Modano poked the puck up ice to Richard Matvichuk, who shot it ahead to Verbeek. He skated into the slot and went to his backhand to beat Hasek.

After a scoreless first period that had numerous open-ice hits but few good scoring chances, Dallas took advantage of Curtis Brown's interference penalty to score the initial goal.

Modano threaded a pass from the right circle across the slot to Sydor in the lower left circle. Hasek chose not to come out of the net and cut off the angle, allowing Sydor to lift the puck over the goaltender's left shoulder and under the crossbar at 2: 23 of the second.

Stanley Cup Finals

Buffalo vs. Dallas (Dallas leads series 3-2)

Game 1: Buff. 3, Dal. 2, OT

Game 2: Dallas 4, Buffalo 2

Game 3: Dallas 2, Buffalo 1

Game 4: Buffalo 2, Dallas 1

Yesterday: Dallas 2, Buffalo 0

Tomorrow: at Buff., 8 (ESPN)

Tuesday: at Dallas, 8 (45, 5)*

*-If necessary

Buffalo 0 0 0 - 0

Dallas 0 1 1 - 0

First period--None. Penalty--Ludwig, Dal (ob.-tripping), 2: 08.

Second period--1, Dallas, Sydor 3 (Modano, Zubov), 2: 23 (pp). Penalties--Brown, Buf (interference), 1: 42; Woolley, Buf (ob.-holding), 3: 31; Langenbrunner, Dal (roughing), 7: 44.

Third period--2, Dallas, Verbeek 3 (Matvichuk, Modano), 15: 21. Penalties--Sydor, Dal (roughing), 8: 21; Primeau, Buf (roughing), 8: 21; Warrener, Buf (slashing), 16: 31; Zhitnik, Buf (elbowing), 17: 27; Nieuwendyk, Dal (roughing), 17: 27; Skrudland, Dal (ob.-tripping), 19: 29; Warrener, Buf (roughing), 20: 00; Hatcher, Dal (roughing), 20: 00.

Shots on goal--Buffalo 9-5-9--23. Dallas 8-7-6--21. Power-play opportunities--Buffalo 0 of 3; Dallas 1 of 3. Goalies--Buffalo, Hasek 13-5 (21 shots-19 saves). Dallas, Belfour 15-7 (23-23). A--17,001 (16,928). Referees--Kerry Fraser, Don Koharski. Linesmen--Ray Scapinello, Jay Sharrers.

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