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Shields shuts the door

San Jose goalie plays big in vital Game 3 victory

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Posted: Sunday May 07, 2000 11:30 PM

  Steve Shields Steve Shields has allowed six goals in the first three games against Dallas. AP

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- At last, San Jose gave goalie Steve Shields a lead to work with, and the way he protected it helped the upstart Sharks beat the Dallas Stars for the first time in their playoff series and add to the intrigue of Game 4 Friday night.

Finally solving goalie Ed Belfour, San Jose scored its first two goals of the series after two straight shutouts and Shields made them stand up by stopping 30 shots in the Sharks' 2-1 win Tuesday night.

"We lost 1-0 on Sunday and didn't play any differently," Sharks coach Darryl Sutter said after San Jose closed to 2-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series. "It's going to take great performances by special players or else. But if we don't have great goaltending [Tuesday night], what's the score?"

Outscored 5-0 by Dallas in the first two games, San Jose fell behind again as Mike Modano had a power-play goal 3:35 into the game. But that was the only score against Shields, who improved to 5-5 with a goals against average of 2.81 in the playoffs.

"Shields played very well. You have to make every shot a perfect shot," said Dallas left wing Mike Keane.

The Sharks know all about that after Belfour brushed off all 37 shots by San Jose in the first two games. He stopped 28 more Tuesday night but lost for just the second time in eight postseason matches with a goals against average of 1.63.

San Jose was on a 5-on-3 power-play at 5:42 of the second period when it finally scored for the first time in the series on Mike Ricci's redirected shot from up close. The goal, which Dallas complained shouldn't have been allowed because of goaltender interference, marked the first score against Belfour in his last 164 minutes, 35 seconds. It also snapped the Sharks' scoreless string at 171:28, the longest such drought in the team's nine-year history.

"It was a huge relief. It's tough to solve [Belfour]," said Gary Suter, whose shot Ricci tipped in for the score.

Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said Ricci drifted into the crease and obstructed Belfour, a claim Ricci denied.

"I definitely I was out of the crease. I had a right to be there," Ricci said.

San Jose moved in front 10 minutes later on a goal by Owen Nolan, the Sharks leading scorer who returned to the ice after missing Game 2 with foot and shoulder injuries.

From there, the game was in Shields' hands and he came up with a series of critical saves, with the biggest coming at the end of a short-handed breakaway by Modano in the closing moments of the second period.

"That was a killer," Modano said. "It would have been great going into the third period tied 2-2."

Modano was skating in alone on Shields and got a shot off in the slot, trying to force the puck between Shields' legs but the goalie dropped down in time to block it and cover the puck up.

The Stars pressed their attack in the third period, getting off 13 more shots but Shields frustrated them. In the game's final minute, Dallas pulled Belfour for an extra attacker but Shields' smothered Kirk Muller's wraparound try with 30 seconds left and the Stars failed to get another shot off.

"In that final minute, I was having fun," Shields said. "I wasn't nervous. I'm usually more nervous when the games start. I knew they were going to attack me. All I had to do was defend."


 
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