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Day at a Glance

Hasek has huge hand in Sabres' upset

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Posted: Wednesday June 09, 1999 01:57 PM

By Denise Maloof, CNN/SI

In the Crease
Sports Illustrated contributor Pierre McGuire , a former coach of the Hartford Whalers, dissects strategy for throughout the Stanley Cup finals.

Game 1 was all Dominik Hasek . He was not only strong in all phases of the game, he was also his team's best penalty-killer. Anytime that you are forced to kill 10 penalties, including two in OT, and win, you know the goalie was special.

However, don't discount the way the Buffalo defense was led by Jay McKee and Alexi Zhitnik . While they play with different partners, both men were a thorn in the side of the Dallas attack. If the Sabres are to have follow up success in Game 2 it will be imperative for them to continue the attacking style they showed in the third period and in overtime. Winning offensive-zone faceoffs and working on their cycle game are two main things the Sabres must concentrate on. Along the way they better remember to bring a little bit of self-discipline with them to Reunion Arena, because putting Dallas on the power play that many times in one game is like playing with fire.

The Stars hit a wall Tuesday because of Buffalo's penalty-killing prowess. The Sabres use a passive forecheck when they are shorthanded, so it will be important for the Stars to tinker with their power-play breakout. Mike Modano and Joe Nieuwendyk are going to have to carry the puck more into the offensive zone rather then shooting it in. Once the attacking zone is established, the Stars need to get more people in front of Hasek. Pat Verbeek and Jamie Lagenbrunner need to camp out in front of the Dominator to limit his vision. Don't be surprised to see Derian Hatcher get a chance to play up front on the power play, if for no other reason than to get a big presence in the slot area.

For 40 minutes in Game 1 the Stars were the superior team, but they stopped attacking and went into a defensive shell in the third period. In Game 2 the Stars need to get back to controlling the boards on the forecheck, and get back to winning big faceoffs -- especially in their own zone. Guy Carbonneau will have to come up with a big face-off game.

DALLAS -- That collective Ouch! you hear is David stomping squarely on Goliath's big toe.

Which opens the door for finger-pointing and I-told-you-sos -- something that the Dallas Stars probably didn't consider as fallout from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

The younger and angrier Buffalo Sabres buffaloed their bigger, more-experienced hosts in Tuesday's series opener, playing matador to the Stars' charge. Dallas' anemic power play gets most of the blame -- a 1-for-10 percentage is inexcusable at this stage -- but lost in the number-crunching and shot totals was the Sabres' grit, and their survivalist instinct.

After chasing Stars and being outshot 24-9 through the first two periods, Buffalo rebounded with a 10-6 shot advantage in the third. The Sabres played even-steven with Dallas in the overtime, firing five shots to Dallas' seven.

"Let's not forget how nervous everybody was," said Buffalo's Jason Woolley , who scored the game-winner at 15:30 of overtime, and cited the Texas heat and his team's nine-day layoff as contributing factors in the Sabres' early punchless- ness.

No excuse, according to the Stars.

"They played with a lot of passion and maybe we didn't play with enough passion out there," veteran center Guy Carbonneau said. "That to me is unacceptable."

Carbonneau won two Stanley Cups with Montreal (in 1986 and 1993) and ought to know. "Go ask the guys on the power play," he added after being consulted for his take on the offensive failures.

Winger Pat Verbeek blamed it on a loss of one-on-one battles. Nor would he hear of Dominik Hasek 's contribution; The Dominator stopped 37 shots compared to his teammates' 24, but phooey say the Stars.

"I don't want to talk about his game," Verbeek said. "He's not the reason we lost the game."

Hasek had a hand in it, blanking Verbeek twice in overtime. But more likely, the Stars lost their focus in the third period, when all the power-play O-fers began to mount and the Sabres struck twice to take a 2-1 lead. Jere Lehtinen 's last-chance goal with less than a minute remaining earned the Stars a chance for overtime redemption, but Woolley's game-winner set off Wednesday's morning-after speculation.

"That's what happens when you press that hard and you have that many chances," Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That many just-abouts, sometimes those things come back and haunt you like that."

Expect it to haunt the Stars in Wednesday's practice. Hitchcock promised as much late Tuesday. And to his credit, Dallas goalie Ed Belfour didn't publicly blast his teammates when a 37-24 shot advantage should have negated the two that slip ped past him.

"We're definitely disappointed, but we can't do anything about it," he said. "And we all have to play better."

So don't look for any obvious back-biting. Or for Goliath to crumble so easily.

Or, as Woolley said, "We're a long way from done and we know that."

Storylines We're Following

Hasek's groin
He insists he's fine, despite the pop that he says he took from Verbeek in the Stars' final offensive flurry. Hasek sprawled face-down on the ice once Woolley's shot escaped Belfour, then stomped off to the dressing room alone instead of joining his teammates in a celebratory mob.

Reunion Arena's much-maligned surface held up OK, considering outdoor temperatures in the low-90s at the opening faceoff. Except for a few quick linesmen's repairs following goal-mouth scrambles or hard slides into the boards, there were no obvious crises.

Injury update
Buffalo left wing Michal Grosek left the ice late in the first period with back spasms. He missed the final five regular- season games with the same ailment, and there's no word on his return. Dallas defenseman Sergei Zubov used his right cheek to contain the puck inside Buffalo's blue line, but expect him back with stitches and a bad bruise.


NHL's Three Stars
Each day throughout the Stanley Cup finals, we'll take a look at three key individuals.

1. Jason Woolley . How obvious. He also entered Game 1 with 13 playoff points (three goals, 10 assists) .

2. Dominik Hasek . Dallas sour grapes aside, Tuesday's win wouldn't have happened without him.

3. The Brett Hull-Mike Modano-Jere Lehtinen line . They were the Dallas offense. Two goals and three assists.


Tuesday's Reunion Arena crowd of 17,001 They deserved to boo their team's offensive stinker, but didn't
Reunion Arena ice It still doesn't matter
Instant delay Off-ice officials took forever and then some to decide that Buffalo's Vaclav Varada was in Belfour's crease during the second-period.
Linesman Jay Sharrers He almost lost an ear on a whizzing puck, once. Then accidentally got dumped during a Buffalo clear at the blue line and still made the right call (offsides, Sabres)
Reunion Arena's press box

No elevator

Related information
Woolley's OT goal gives Sabres 3-2 win over Stars
Closer look: Stars' punchless power play
Notebook: Hasek hears it, then he doesn't
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