Work in Sports
Stanley Cup Notebook
Stars not overconfident heading home
Posted: Sunday June 04, 2000 01:07 AM
DALLAS (AP) -- History is back on the side of the New Jersey Devils.
Boosted by their 2-1 victory over Dallas on Saturday night in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, they can feel good that 18 of the last 21 Game 3 winners that took 2-1 leads have won the championship.
"I think we outplayed them tonight," Randy McKay said. "They also had a lot of great scoring chances in the third, so we have to be on our toes."
The teams once again proved that New Jersey's 7-3 victory in game one was a fluke. The Stars and Devils have returned to their tight games, producing two straight 2-1 games.
"I think we are the team that has to pick up the pace," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Still in Minnesota
Minnesota got to share in the Stars' playoff success Saturday even though the team packed up and left for Dallas seven years ago.
In every Stars playoff game this year, towels were distributed to fans as they entered Reunion Arena. The streak was snapped for Game 3 of the finals when the towels didn't arrive in time for the game.
The towels were made in Chicago and sent on their way to Dallas, with a changeover in Minneapolis. Only problem is the towels missed their connection and had to stay -- unlike the Minnesota North Stars, who left in 1993.
Fans, not wanting to miss out on the waving experience, went to arena bathrooms and returned to their seats with toilet-seat covers more than suitable for swinging. But the Stars lost to the Devils 2-1 and trail the best-of-seven series 2-1.
Stars falter at home
The Stars fell to 9-2 at home and handed the home-ice advantage back to the Devils.
The Stars are 18-5 at Reunion Arena in playoff games over the last two seasons and held the Oilers, Sharks and Avalanche to an average of 1.20 goals in the first three rounds.
New Jersey, which won Game 3 at Dallas, has excelled on the road, winning eight of 10.
"We've never really looked at home-ice advantage," Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer said after New Jersey's 2-1 victory Saturday night. "You have to go out each game and play your best in the game you're involved in. There's not really an advantage if you don't go out and play well."
Choppy ice in sizzling Dallas is the main discussion point as the Stanley Cup finals invade the Southwest for the second straight season.
Stars captain Derian Hatcher is sick of hearing about it and thinks Reunion Arena is getting a bad rap.
"We were talking about that after the last game (in New Jersey) and we never want to hear another word about our ice," he said. "The ice we just played on was just as bad as ours. And it was hotter in there if you can believe it."
Dallas finally got some chances to get its power-play unit on the ice. It was successful early, but eventually became the Stars' downfall.
Entering Game 3, the New Jersey Devils had killed off all but three of 52 chances in the playoffs. Not only did they hold Dallas without a power-play goal in the first two games of the finals, they behaved themselves well, going without a penalty in a 7-3 victory in Game 1.
In the first period Saturday night, Sylvain Cote gave the Stars a 1-0 lead, scoring on their first chance while Sergei Nemchinov was off for slashing.
Less than two minutes past after the goal, when the Stars found themselves on a 5-on-3 power play for 49 seconds. The Devils killed it off and the Stars didn't score again in their 2-1 loss.
"It is an area of our game that hasn't been too productive, 5-on-3s," Mike Modano said.
In the third period, when no infractions were being called, Dallas received a gift when goalie Martin Brodeur got an automatic delay of game penalty by shooting the puck into the stands. The call with only 4:15 left couldn't produce the tying goal.
"It was just a bad mistake," Brodeur said. "Fortunately enough my team came through for me. It was something I was really upset about."
How important is the first goal in a playoff game? Very much so to the Stars and Devils. Dallas won 11 of its first 12 playoff games this year when they scored first.
The Devils won every game in the Eastern Conference finals when they scored first and lost them all when they didn't.
The tide changed a bit in Game 3 as the Stars took the lead only to lose 2-1 Saturday night.
The Dallas Stars returned home from New Jersey to find a parade plan ready should they finish off the Devils.
In Friday's Dallas Morning News, just below the series schedule that showed the Stars had only won one of the required four games to repeat as champions, possible victory parade dates were listed.
Organizing an event as large as a victory celebration must be done in advance. Rarely are the details revealed to avoid encouraging the other team.
With signs all around town saying "The Cup Stays Here," Dallas might figure it's a question of "when" rather than "if" the Stars will repeat.
"Every city is almost like that, and that's how it should be," Hatcher said. "I think when you're rooting for your home team, they're expecting us to win. I'm sure in Jersey they're expecting Jersey to win. I think that's just the way it is.
Jamie and Joe
In an attempt to return to the Dallas lineup, Jamie Langenbrunner got on and quickly off the ice at the Stars' practice rink Saturday morning. His injured knee still not ready for the Stanley Cup finals.
Langenbrunner was hurt in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals and has not played since. His linemate, center Joe Nieuwendyk, might be suffering the consequences of Langenbrunner's absence the most.
Nieuwendyk, last year's Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP, has not scored in the five games Langenbrunner has been out. The current line, which includes Scott Thornton and rookie Jon Sim took just three shots on goal.
"Eventually he's going to get going," top-line center Mike Modano said Saturday of Nieuwendyk. "It's everyone else's job to keep the pace up. In playoffs, guys get hot and cold and we just try and even out our scoring."
Easier said than done. Modano and linemate Brett Hull accounted for 20 of Dallas' first 48 playoff goals. Hull scored both goals in the Stars' 2-1 victory in Game 2 of the finals.
"He brings a lot of energy and excitement," Nieuwendyk said of Langenbrunner after the Stars lost Game 3 on Saturday.
Nieuwendyk showed some signs he might be getting closer to breaking out, registering three shots at Brodeur.