Work in Sports
Belfour blanks Sharks for third playoff shutout
Posted: Monday May 01, 2000 01:48 AM
DALLAS (AP) -- Ed Belfour is proving that his phenomenal goaltending in last year's playoffs was no fluke.
Belfour posted his second straight shutout and third this postseason, making a first-period goal by Mike Modano hold up as the Dallas Stars beat the San Jose Sharks 1-0 Sunday night.
"I'm feeling strong and focused," Belfour said. "That's the key for me. I'm seeing the puck well and the guys are playing great in front of me."
Although Belfour was a hero of Dallas' Stanley Cup championship last summer, some still don't consider him an elite goalie, preferring to remember his reputation as a big-game choker. He wasn't chosen for the All-Star game and a recent arrest further tarnished his image.
Love him or hate him, Belfour hasn't allowed a goal in 138 minutes and 53 seconds. That streak will be on the line in Game 3 Tuesday night at San Jose, where fans still haven't forgiven him for leaving the Sharks and signing with Dallas two years ago.
"Going there 2-0, it's a good feeling going into that building," he said.
Belfour was at his best in the final minute when a power play and an empty net gave San Jose a 6-on-4 skating advantage.
In the first 10 seconds, he made a kick save up close and snared a long shot by Gary Suter with his glove, bringing 17,001 fans to their feet with chants of "Ed-die! Ed-die!" He kicked away another Suter shot with 17 seconds left, then the Sharks' last two attempts went wide of the goal.
"Suter's shot went through five or six bodies," Modano said. "Eddie made a great save, the save of the game."
The Sharks' scoring drought can be traced to the injuries hampering leading scorer Owen Nolan. Team doctors forced him to miss this game because of the foot and-or shoulder problems that made him ineffective in the opening 4-0 loss.
"It's really frustrating to sit, especially in a 1-0 game," said Nolan, who was uncertain whether he'd play Tuesday. "It's something where you never know what's going to happen. This was not my decision."
Coach Darryl Sutter said he told the team not to expect Nolan back this postseason.
How important is Nolan? He scored 20 percent of San Jose's goals in the regular season, then upped that to 30 percent (six of 20) in the first round. His replacement, Alexander Korolyuk, took just one shot. Korolyuk had been a healthy scratch the previous three games.
Eighth-seeded San Jose upset No. 1 seed St. Louis in the first round by splitting the first two games on the road. This time, the Sharks go home still seeking their first goal of the series.
"How do you get quality chances against Belfour?" Sutter said. "They're a great defensive club. You're not going to get much. That's the way it is."
Belfour has won seven straight postseason games at Reunion Arena, dating to last season. He's allowed just five goals and had four shutouts in that span. He has 10 career playoff shutouts; these are his first consecutive.
Belfour made 19 saves Sunday night -- one more than in Game 1 -- but every one was crucial because Dallas couldn't get a second shot past Steve Shields despite many good opportunities.
The puck not going in usually had more to do with Dallas missing than Shields making a play, such as Jamie Langenbrunner hitting a post and Hull shooting the puck into the side of the net.
On the goal, Shields stopped a long slap shot from Hull, but allowed a long rebound into open ice. Modano beat two Sharks to the puck and fired it past a diving Shields, who finished with 17 saves.
Modano is playing at as high a level as Belfour.
He has a team-best four goals and points in six straight games. Modano has been the fastest skater, even while double-shifting, and he plays key roles on both specialty teams.
"He pretty much does everything that could be asked of a hockey player," teammate Blake Sloan said. "He's got the whole package. Sometimes I find myself watching him. It puts you in awe."
The referees let both teams go full throttle. There were no penalties called in the first period, and none late in the third when two skirmishes broke out on one play.
Before the last, intense minute, Sutter called a timeout to try and find a way to beat Belfour.
"Eddie made a big save at the end," Sutter said. "When he's in that zone, he doesn't leave much for rebounds. You're not going to score on him unless it's something he doesn't see."