Looking to steal two
Sabres hope they can do better than split in Dallas
Posted: Thursday June 10, 1999 07:46 PM
DALLAS (AP) -- The Buffalo Sabres got the victory in Dallas they so wanted -- one that gave them home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup finals, and, if only temporarily, the mental edge in a sport where mind games always matter.
Now, flush from the success of a Game 1 they admittedly stole in overtime 3-2 from the supposedly superior Dallas Stars, do the Sabres dare think they can do it again in Game 2 Thursday night?
Yes. But make that a cautious yes.
"I'm not happy with the split anymore," coach Lindy Ruff said Wednesday. "You go on the road hoping for a split but, if you win the first game, you want to steal two."
"I think you always want to take it shift by shift, period by period," the Sabres' Curtis Brown said. "You don't ever want to get ahead of yourself. I think we showed that last night. If you start looking too far down the road ..."
You might get run over by a Zamboni. Or, even worse, one of those six large Stars defensemen who wouldn't look out of place in a Cowboys' uniform.
But, despite the Stars' superior season -- they had 51 victories to Buffalo's 37 -- they were exceedingly aware of the dangers of underestimating a team with Dominik Hasek in goal. Especially one that is 13-3 in the playoffs and 7-0 at Marine Midland Arena, where the series shifts Saturday.
If they weren't before, they are now.
Hasek kept the Sabres from getting buried in Game 1, stopping 35 shots and denying a single goal on any of the Stars' final nine power plays even as Buffalo was being outshot at one point by 3-1.
Give the save -- and the steal -- to Hasek, who dismissed suggestions that he reinjured his groin in a steamy, noisy arena. He was so spent when the game ended he couldn't join his celebrating teammates, but he blamed that on heat, fatigue and emotion.
"I was so tired," he said. "I tried to get to the other side of the ice but I made a couple of steps and I said, 'No more.' "
Or, exactly what he said to Dallas.
Still, the Stars warn the series has only started, even if Buffalo could win its first Stanley Cup merely by winning its remaining home games.
The Stars believe their own complacency led to this 1-0 deficit, not just Hasek's play, and they are certain they know how to fix it in Game 2.
"We recognize what we did wrong, and the coaches and players know how to correct it," center Mike Modano said. "You probably won't see the same effort."
The Stars are convinced they didn't force Hasek to make nearly enough difficult saves, even if Pat Verbeek had two excellent chances in overtime just before Jason Woolley scored the game winner at 15:30.
"We've got to be more aggressive and feed off that," Modano said. "We've got to take more quality shots in front of the net and not leave that area until the puck does."
However, the Stars recognize the dangers of their predicament. Go down 2-0, and they might not come back -- in the series or to Dallas.
"We are in a desperate situation, trust me," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I think our team recognizes that, as well as we played, we've got to find another gear. When we face adversity, we pull together."
"The great thing about these series is the best team prevails over time, and things change as the adversity goes up and down," the Stars' Joe Nieuwendyk said.
Meanwhile, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league was reviewing Brian Skrudland's head butt on the Sabres' Vaclav Varada. The first-period incident was unnoticed by many in the arena, including Bettman, but was replayed several times on TV.
"It was definitely a head butt," Ruff said.
"It is obviously under review, but whether or not we do anything about it isn't something I am prepared to address right now," Bettman said.
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