Work in Sports
DALLAS (Ticker) -- Here's a surprise. A playoff game between the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers was decided by one goal.
Rookie Roman Lyashenko scored his first career playoff goal with 8:29 remaining to give the Stars a 2-1 victory over Edmonton in the opener of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Oilers goaltender Tommy Salo stopped a deflection and somehow managed to get the heel of his stick on the rebound. Defenseman Igor Ulanov tried to clear the puck, but backhanded it right onto the stick of Lyashenko, who jammed it into the net to snap a 1-1 tie.
"My teammates worked hard for that goal. I put my stick on the ice and shot it into the net," said Lyashenko, a 1997 second-round draft pick. "I played three years in the Russian league and I've been in the playoffs before. But this is a new level for me."
"Lyashenko is a competitor," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's an exceptional defensive player whose offensive skills have improved as the season went on. He plays his best in big games."
Ed Belfour made the lead stand up for the defending Stanley Cup champions with only 13 saves, including two in the third period. He is 13-2 lifetime in the playoffs against Edmonton.
"This was one of the best games we've played against Edmonton in two years," Hitchcock said. "We created a number of scoring chances and moved the puck properly."
These teams are meeting in the postseason for the fourth straight year, and each of the last six games have been decided by one goal. Dallas swept the Oilers in last year's West quarterfinals en route to the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.
"I told somebody before the game that we've got to get back to being prepared to play 1-0 and 2-1 games," Stars captain Derian Hatcher said. "We have to have the confidence to win the close games, and I'm sure they have the confidence as well. If you're not confident you can win the close ones, you might as well not show up."
The Stars host Game Two on Thursday.
German Titov scored the lone goal for Edmonton, which went 20 minutes without a shot bridging the first two periods and came within one of tying the team playoff record for fewest shots in a game. The Oilers were held to 13 by Dallas in Game One of last year's series.
"That was our worst game against them in quite some time," Edmonton coach Kevin Lowe said. "In the second period, we turned the puck over far too often. We played a good first period, but then we got frustrated. I'm not so sure it was anything that they did as much as we just got frustrated."
Salo made six saves and Belfour five in a scoreless first period. But Dallas had the first 13 shots in the second, grabbing the lead at 12:32 on Mike Keane's 29th career playoff goal. He poked the puck between defenseman Jason Smith's legs and flicked a wrist shot from the low left faceoff circle over Salo's left shoulder.
Salo is 0-12-1 lifetime against Dallas, including the playoffs.
"It's been very tough for me," he said of facing the Stars. "Some time, some day, it's going to turn around. If we get a win Thursday, it's going to put pressure on them and it'll make for a whole different ballgame."
Edmonton did not get its first shot in the second period until Ethan Moreau hit Belfour in the mask from three feet with 4:08 remaining. The Oilers were killing a penalty when Rem Murray was left alone in the slot but was denied by Belfour in the final minute.
Rookie Brenden Morrow appeared to double the Stars' lead with 24.8 seconds to play in the period, but referee Stephen Walkom immediately waved off the goal and called a cross-checking penalty on Dallas center Scott Thornton.
A mistake by the Stars led to the tying goal. Titov knocked down defenseman Darryl Sydor's clearing attempt in the slot, turned and fired a slap shot by Belfour at the seven-minute mark. It was the first goal in an Oilers' uniform for Titov, who had only four assists in seven regular-season games after he was acquired from Pittsburgh.
"It was a bad read by me, throwing it into the middle," Sydor said. "I should have tried to throw it to the opposite side, and I need to eliminate those kind of mental mistakes."
Morrow left after two periods with a charley horse and is questionable for Game Two.
"We know we can play better than we did tonight, and we will play better tomorrow," Edmonton captain Doug Weight said. "Our execution of our game plan must get better. They have a great defensive team, but we created a lot of our own problems tonight. We worked hard but could not do the right things at the right time."