Stars' Belfour shines
Dallas goalie blanks Avalanche 3-0 for series lead
Posted: Thursday May 27, 1999 11:22 AM
DENVER (AP) -- The first goal was lucky. But then came two more, which left the Colorado Avalanche seeing Stars.
"We got the home-ice advantage back," said Dallas forward Jamie Langenbrunner, who scored the Stars' second goal. "That was important to us."
Game 4 of the best-of-7 Western Conference final series is scheduled for Friday night in Denver.
Nieuwendyk scored his eighth goal of the playoffs at 2:22 of the second period on a shot that deflected off a defenseman's skate.
Nieuwendyk, who chased the puck behind the net, flicked a shot from behind and just left of the goal. But the puck hit the right skate of Colorado defenseman Aaron Miller, who was stationed in front of the net, and ricocheted between Patrick Roy's legs.
It was Nieuwendyk's fifth game-winning goal of the playoffs, a figure that leads the NHL.
On a 2-on-1 break after a Colorado turnover at mid-ice in the third period, Langenbrunner took a pass from Nieuwendyk and beat Roy from the slot at 10:44.
Belfour had 34 saves and Roy 23.
"If you're going to win in the playoffs, your goaltender has to be your best player," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Eddie was our best player tonight. He was excellent."
Belfour said he had plenty of help.
"I felt strong tonight," he said. "I saw the puck really well, and the people in front of me cleared the rebounds.
"They came out real strong with chances right off the bat. Once we got through that and I made some stops, our guys got the puck out of our zone. We were in control the rest of the night."
Colorado hit the goal post three times with scoring chances.
"I had some good luck," Belfour said. "The posts were on my side."
"Eddie made the big saves when he had to," Nieuwendyk said. "We built a cushion for him, and then he really closed the door."
The loss dropped the Avalanche to 2-5 at home in the playoffs. The Stars, meanwhile, are 4-2 in road playoff games.
Colorado committed 23 giveaways, compared to Dallas' four.
"I think they're outsmarting us a little bit right now," Colorado center Peter Forsberg said. "They got the breaks that we're not getting, but I think overall, they're playing smarter than us."
Avalanche captain Joe Sakic said Belfour "is playing great. He's seeing everything. Their defensemen are blocking a lot of shots for him. I think we can do a better job of getting guys in front of him."
Avalanche coach Bob Hartley felt Nieuwendyk's goal "was kind of a lucky goal. Then they really started to close down the neutral zone, and they made it tough on us. I thought we generated some great scoring chances.
"In the third period, we had to open up. They got us in some 2-on-1s and beat us with good shots."
In a wide-open first period that featured numerous scoring opportunities and turnovers, Belfour and Roy were perfect. Belfour stopped 15 shots and Roy 13.
Colorado, which had only 19 shots in Game 2 -- including just one in the third period -- mounted early pressure on Belfour. But the Stars' goalie responded with a save off Milan Hejduk from close range and a stop on a rebound shot by Valeri Kamensky from the slot.
Colorado had two prime scoring chances in the second period. Early in the period, Kamensky hit the cross bar. Later, Sandis Ozolinsh's shot from the slot, on a feed from Fleury, clanged off the post.
Belfour had back-to-back saves on Ozolinsh and Hejduk in the third period, and Drury extended Colorado's frustration, hitting the post after a slick move past a defender.
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