Work in Sports
Belfour shines as Stars blank Sharks
Posted: Saturday April 29, 2000 04:34 PM
DALLAS (AP) -- The return of Sergei Zubov was exactly what the Dallas Stars needed to lift their sagging power play.
With Zubov again anchoring the unit after a month-long absence because of a knee injury, Dallas scored twice in its first three chances with a man advantage to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-0 in the opener of their second-round series Friday night.
The Stars went 2-for-26 on the power play without Zubov in their first-round series against Edmonton. They went 2-for-7 in this game with him assisting on goals by Mike Modano and Joe Nieuwendyk.
"When he's able to start with the puck, it opens things up for everyone," Modano said. "He really dictates the speed of the game."
Dallas had a six-day layoff while San Jose was coming off a Game 7 victory over top-seeded St. Louis on Wednesday. The emotional release and added physical toll caught up to the Sharks more than rust may have affected the Stars.
San Jose took just four shots in the first period and failed to get off any on its first three power plays. Steve Shields allowed goals on two of Dallas' first six shots, then gave up two more goals in a 1:55 span early in the third period.
"This was our worst performance of the playoffs," San Jose center Vincent Damphousse said.
Shields, who was superb in Game 7 against the Blues, said the slow start derailed the Sharks.
"We got into a hole early and didn't feel like we were into the game much," he said. "I may have been a little jumpy and excited early. I didn't feel comfortable at the start and it showed."
Stars goaltender Ed Belfour stopped 18 shots overall for his ninth career postseason shutout and second of these playoffs. Dallas is 4-0 at Reunion Arena, which will be the site of Game 2 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday.
Although the Stars played solid offense and defense and were great on specialty teams, captain Derian Hatcher wasn't impressed.
"I know we can go up a notch," said Hatcher, who benefited from Zubov's return by playing 3:25 less than he averaged against Edmonton.
Dallas led 1-0 after one shot when Aaron Gavey slid the puck under Shields just 5:45 into the game. They made it 2-0 later in the period on Modano's first goal, which came while former Star Todd Harvey was in the penalty box for high-sticking.
Zubov fed Brett Hull, who passed it back to Zubov. He skated in for a backhanded shot that caromed off Shields and right to Modano, who was wide open in front of the net. He swatted it in for his third goal this postseason and the 35th of his playoff career, tying Steve Payne's franchise record.
"It popped out and I had a lot of time," said Modano, who has a point in five straight games.
Nieuwendyk made it 3-0 early in the third period when he fired a backhanded shot past Shields on a tough angle. It was the 10th power-play goal allowed by the Sharks in eight playoff games.
Brenden Morrow got the fourth goal by getting a piece of a slap shot by Derian Hatcher. Shields had a bead on the puck, but he didn't get enough of it.
Belfour had a relatively easy night. He held off some odd-man rushes in the second period and his penalty-killing unit prevented him from seeing many shots when San Jose had the man advantage.
His best save was a sliding stop of hard-charging Owen Nolan in the third period.
Nolan, who had five regular-season goals against Dallas and was tied for the playoff lead with six goals, spent more time getting up from hard hits than pressuring Belfour.
"They were keying on Owen, no question," Damphousee said. "That was expected. So we have to bump some of their players."
San Jose went 0-for-6 on the power play after going 6-for-35 in the first round.
"We've got to get better on the power play," Sharks forward Mike Ricci said. "Special teams will be very big in his series."
They were for Dallas in Game 1.