Work in Sports
EDMONTON, Alberta (Ticker) -- Suddenly, Ed Belfour no longer is a mystery to the Edmonton Oilers.
Doug Weight recorded the Oilers' first playoff hat trick in nearly eight years as they blitzed Belfour in the first period and got back in their Western Conference quarterfinal series with a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.
After combining for 31 shots in losing the first two games at Dallas, Edmonton set a team playoff record with 22 in the opening period. Weight and Jim Dowd scored 76 seconds apart to send the Oilers on their way and Weight's power-play tally made it 3-0 before the period was over.
"Eddie's a great goaltender and they have a great team defense full of shot blockers," Weight said. "He got into our heads a little bit in Dallas and we started thinking too much. Their system is built around keeping the puck away from their net."
Ryan Smyth added a shorthanded goal and Weight scored again on the power play to lead a superior special teams effort by Edmonton, which can tie the best-of-seven with a win at home on Tuesday.
Nearly perfect in the first two games, Belfour was overwhelmed early and fell to 25-5-6 lifetime against the Oilers, including a 14-3 mark in the postseason.
"We didn't play with the level of desperation that Edmonton had," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I saw signs of that in Game Two and it was there again tonight. I would imagine that this is the way every game will be played between these two teams for the rest of the series.
"It's not almost embarrassing, it is embarrassing and it's just a sign of how badly we were outplayed early in the game. I'm sure everybody in Canada and in some parts of Dallas will be talking about this series because the intensity level just went up a whole bunch."
Buoyed by a raucous sellout crowd at Skyreach Centre, Edmonton was relentless in the first period. The 22 shots broke by one the team playoff record set against Chicago in the 1983 Campbell Conference finals and equaled against Colorado in the 1997 West semifinals.
"We took a lot of energy from the crowd," Smyth said. "It sends chills down your spine. Dallas played well in the first two games. We thought we played a little better in Game Two and this was the most physical game I've been in in quite some time."
Weight beat Belfour at 8:40. Off a goalmouth scramble, the puck caromed off his left skate and into the net. Referee Don Van Massenhoven immediately waved it off, signaling that Weight hit it with a high stick, but replays showed the Oilers captain missed it with his stick before the puck hit his skate.
A video review also was needed after Dowd made it 2-0 at 9:56. Defenseman Janne Niinimaa intercepted Belfour's clearing attempt along the right boards and fired a shot from the top of the faceoff circle that Dowd deflected in the low slot.
Weight scored again with three minutes left in the period, leaning into a slap shot at the top of the slot and beating a screened Belfour inside the left goalpost.
Dallas was 0-for-2 on the power play in the first period and surrendered a shorthanded goal 76 seconds into the second. Ethan Moreau made a perfect cross-ice pass on a 2-on-1, setting up Smyth's 10th career playoff tally.
"They obviously came out with a lot more jump than they had in the previous two games," Stars center Joe Nieuwendyk said. "They capitalized on some opportunities and we were in a hole that we dug for ourselves. They did everything to us that we did to them in the first two games."
The Stars answered 76 seconds later on the same power play as rookie Brenden Morrow backhanded a rebound past out-of-position goaltender Tommy Salo.
But Weight completed his first career postseason hat trick on the power play at 6:13, creeping down into the right circle and snapping a wrister past Belfour. The last Oiler to score three goals in a playoff game was Joe Murphy on May 6, 1992, against Vancouver.
"I was thinking, 'Geez, I wish I hadn't done it so early. We still got half a game to go and anything can happen,'" Weight said. "I'm excited to contribute, but this was a team win. We had to play better and everybody really stepped up."
Dallas' Mike Modano capped the scoring with 9:01 to go in the second.
Salo made 26 saves for his first career playoff win, improving to 1-13-1 lifetime against the Stars, including the postseason.