Stars push Blues to brink of elimination with 3-1 win
Posted: Sunday May 16, 1999 01:36 AM
The Stars jumpstarted their troubled power play, getting two man-advantage goals and a 30-save performance from Ed Belfour to push the St. Louis Blues to the brink of elimination with a 3-1 victory.
The victory gave Dallas a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series, which returns to St. Louis for Game 6 Monday night.
The Stars' power play, which is 4-for-26 in the series, went 2-for-5 Saturday night.
Belfour made it easy for Dallas to concentrate on offense, stopping 30 of 31 shots, including several strong Blues opportunities in the second half of the game.
"Our power play was good, the goalie was excellent, and that's about it," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock summarized. "But if we're going to win another game in this series, we've got to play better."
Dallas continued to shut down the Blues' power play, even scoring a short-handed goal during St. Louis' first chance with the man advantage. The Blues went 0-for-4 on the power play.
Lehtinen put a wrist shot past Grant Fuhr for his fifth goal of the playoffs just 3:47 into the game.
The Stars made it 2-0 with a power-play goal when Langenbrunner scored on a point-blank shot at 9:43 for his third goal of the playoffs. Darryl Sydor corralled a weak clearing attempt and passed to Modano in the corner and the Dallas center fed an open Langenbrunner for the score.
"Special teams were a big factor," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was a big difference. They had a good start again and we didn't recover. It's important to get off on the right foot, and we keep digging ourselves another hole."
Modano helped with the excavating, giving an offensive effort on par with his defensive play. His instrumental work on the first two goals improved his team-leading point total to 10.
The Stars were happy to win, but unhappy with their even-strength offense.
"We've got to pick up our five-on-five play a little bit and go after them," Stars center Joe Nieuwendyk said.
Nieuwendyk tipped in Derian Hatcher's shot from the point for a power-play goal and 3-0 lead at 10:59 of the second. It was Nieuwendyk's team-best sixth goal.
But the crowd had barely finished cheering Nieuwendyk when Scott Young flicked a weak shot between Belfour's legs for his fourth at 11:19 to make it 3-1.
Belfour's failure to stop Young was his only bad moment.
His best save of the game came on a point-blank wrist shot from a streaking Geoff Courtnall with 13:45 left to play. Belfour stacked his pads to stop the first shot, and went down again to corral the rebound from a crowd of players to his left.
"We generated a lot of chances on Belfour, and came up with some big stops," Blues defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We just weren't able to get our hands on loose pucks in front of the net."
Fuhr stopped 13 of 16 shots.
The Blues blew some strong opportunities to score throughout, in spite of keeping Dallas under pressure for extended periods throughout the latter half of the game.
Most indicative of their futility was Pavol Demitra's inexplicable decision to pass the puck to the corner when he stood unmolested a few feet in front of a fallen Belfour and an open net about seven minutes into the period.
The Blues had a goal called back with 57 seconds left. Jochen Hecht was ruled to be in the crease when he scored.
That evened the Blues up with the Stars, who had a goal called back in Game 4. Pat Verbeek would have given the Stars a 3-2 lead. Instead, they lost 3-2 in overtime.
Dallas got center and faceoff specialist Guy Carbonneau back from a knee injury. Carbonneau had not played since the first two games of the playoffs.
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