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The Blues are back

Demitra's OT goal gives St. Louis Game 3 over Stars

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Posted: Wednesday May 12, 1999 12:27 AM

  Geoff Courtnall's (left) hustle helped the Blues outshoot the Stars 24-18. AP

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- After a slow start in the playoffs, Pavol Demitra is the St. Louis Blues' go-to guy again.

The team's leading scorer continued a postseason surge when he scored from the right side of the net at 2:43 of overtime for a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Monday night.

"Everybody tried to help me and I'm back," Demitra said. "I'm just happy and I'm enjoying my time on the ice and enjoying my time with the puck."

Demitra has five goals and eight points in the playoffs, including an assist in Game 3, and three of the goals have come in the last two games. He was 10th in the NHL with 89 points, but had entered the game a team-worst minus-4.

The game-winner came off a setup from Geoff Courtnall. Demitra knifed in front of a Stars defenseman and beat Ed Belfour to put an early end to the Blues' fifth overtime game in 10 postseason games.

"Somebody made a nice pass out of the corner," Belfour said. "I wish I could have gotten further out. Demitra made a nice shot."

Two less-likely sources of offense, faceoff specialist Mike Eastwood and rookie Jochen Hecht, also scored as the Blues cut the Stars' series lead to 2-1 heading into Game 4 Wednesday night.

The Stars, the NHL regular-season champions with a franchise-record 114 points, missed a chance to put the Blues in an almost impossible situation. Only two teams have recovered from a 3-0 series deficit, the last being the New York Islanders in 1975 against Pittsburgh.

"We never thought about losing," Demitra said. "We know we can beat Dallas, and we proved it."

Dallas, which got goals from Darryl Sydor and Brett Hull, won Game 2 in overtime on a goal by Joe Nieuwendyk. The Stars' franchise-record six-game playoff winning streak came to an end.

"As much as you don't want to lose, you can't win them all," said Hull, who played his first postseason game in St. Louis since leaving the Blues after 10 seasons. "You have to battle harder because it's the playoffs.

"The team that makes the most mistakes usually loses, and tonight it was us."

Sydor forced the overtime with his first goal of the playoffs at 9:08 of the third. Grant Fuhr got a glove on Pat Verbeek's drive from the slot, and Grant Marshall got his stick on the rebound before Sydor tapped it in.

Hecht, who was with the Blues for only three games during the regular season, had given St. Louis the lead at 4:52 of the third. Hecht, the leading scorer at Worcester of the AHL with 21 goals and 56 points who joined St. Louis on Saturday, worked a give-and-go with Demitra and slipped a backhander past Belfour.

"He's a great player and to play with him is a pleasure," Hecht said. "I'm learning a lot."

Demitra got open when he avoided a check from Richard Matvichuk.

"I got a little bit lucky and just moved my body and he missed me," Demitra said. "All of a sudden I got almost a breakaway and I just gave it to Hecht."

The tight-checking game was in stark contrast to Game 2, which was filled with odd-man rushes. The Blues, playing in front of the team's first sellout crowd of the playoffs, outshot the Stars 24-18 in regulation.

A four-minute high-sticking penalty on Blues captain Chris Pronger, who caught Derian Hatcher in the face, helped the Stars get off to a fast start. Hull scored his second goal of the playoffs, and only Dallas' third in 33 power-play opportunities, with a shot from the left circle off a feed from Nieuwendyk at 3:07.

The Blues got off only three shots in the first period, but tied it on a fluky goal at 2:58 of the second. Ricard Persson flipped the puck end-over-end toward the net and it deflected off Eastwood's glove and Sergei Zubov's stick before eluding Belfour.

It was Eastwood's seventh career playoff goal in 62 games and second point in 10 games this postseason.

Related information
Blues try to rebound from tough loss to Stars
Nieuwendyk's goal gives Stars OT win over Blues
Stars-Blues Game Summary
The Blues celebrate their first win in their series against Dallas
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