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Hockey

Too little pressure

Stars says Hasek not that big a factor in Game 1

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Posted: Thursday June 10, 1999 02:47 AM

  The Stars say Dominik Hasek is nothing to fear, but his 35 saves in Game 1 may indicate otherwise. AP

DALLAS (AP) -- The Buffalo Sabres can heap as much credit as they like on Dominik Hasek for their Game 1 victory in the Stanley Cup finals. The Dallas Stars still won't agree that he beat them.

Dallas players remained convinced Wednesday that they were to blame for their 3-2 loss because they didn't put enough pressure on Hasek. He was looking directly at most of the 35 shots he stopped and rarely faced more than one per possession.

"I don't think he [Hasek] was a factor at all," said Joe Nieuwendyk, the Stars' leading playoff scorer. "I don't think we went through enough of their people in order to get better scoring chances against him."

Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said Hasek "had an easy night."

"We've got to make life a lot more difficult for him," Hitchcock said. "I don't mean to the point where we're running him; I mean we have to be in position where we own the loose pucks around him. That's our game.

"We had more first-shot opportunities than probably any game in the playoffs. But that doesn't matter. He's going to make those saves. We've got to get him out of position if we're going to score."

Although Hasek is known as The Dominator, the Stars aren't intimidated by him. They had beaten him four of their last five meetings before Game 1, with a long list of players having scored against the NHL's reigning two-time MVP.

Brett Hull put the puck between Hasek's legs midway through the first period on Dallas' first power play. The Stars had a man advantage nine more times, but couldn't capitalize.

Hasek wasn't at his highlight-reel best, but was always in proper position to block the puck, even on the several occassions when he lost his stick. Dallas never caught him leaning the wrong way mainly because he didn't let the Stars get to many rebounds.

"I don't care who the goalie is, if you make it tough for him to see the first shot, the second and third chances are going to be there," Dallas center Mike Modano said. "You've got to play for your space in front of the net, then you've got to stay there until someone clears you out or Hasek freezes the puck."

Hasek's play kept the Sabres one shot from tying the game and they finally got it midway through the third period. Then Buffalo went ahead a few minutes later. Dallas capitalized on an empty net to tie the game with 48.3 seconds left. Jason Woolley won it with 4:30 left in overtime.

The Stars had several point-blank chances to beat Hasek in the extra period, but whiffed each time.

When losing to a team with a top goaltender, players often fall into the trap of believing the goalie beat them. That idea can snowball to the point where players become tentative, fearing they have to make the perfect shot.

Curtis Joseph got into the Stars' heads two years ago when Edmonton knocked Dallas out of the playoffs in the first round. Since then, the Stars have been wary of giving goalies too much credit.

"I think anybody who says Buffalo's goaltender won the game, they're not looking at the other 19 guys," Hitchcock said. "He's a big part of their team, but they've got other people who stepped up and they did. Our players recognize that."

 
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