Work in Sports
DALLAS (Ticker) -- Before the San Jose Sharks can think about another playoff upset, they have to score a goal.
Ed Belfour recorded his second straight shutout and Mike Modano scored the game's only goal in the first period as the Dallas Stars opened a two games to none lead in their Western Conference semifinal series with a 1-0 blanking of the Sharks.
Belfour was hardly tested over the first two periods but made nine of his 19 saves in the third as Dallas held an opponent to fewer than 20 shots for the fifth time in seven playoff games.
"Belfour was really solid. He did not see a lot of shots in the second period, but he came up huge for us in the third period, especially in the end," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I felt our goaltending and defense was solid the entire game. This game was a push-it-to-the-limit type of game for both teams."
In becoming the first goaltender in two years to record consecutive playoff shutouts, Belfour extended his scoreless streak to 138 minutes, 53 seconds. Washington's Olaf Kolzig was the last goalie to post back-to-back postseason shutouts, blanking Ottawa in the final two games of the 1998 Eastern Conference semifinals.
"As a whole, the team played a great defensive game and getting the shutout proves that," Belfour said.
It's been 145:36 since San Jose scored a goal. The Sharks stunned top-seeded St. Louis in the first round but have been unable to solve Belfour and must win four of the next five games against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"I think we feel real good about our effort but not the results," said San Jose center Vincent Damphousse, whose playoff goal drought reached 11 games. "I don't think Belfour has us psyched out. We know we can score against Eddie because we've done it before."
The Sharks were without captain and leading scorer Owen Nolan, who has been hobbled by foot and shoulder injuries. Coach Darryl Sutter also benched right wing Ron Stern while giving playing time to young forwards Patrick Marleau and Alexander Korolyuk.
"It's hard to watch, especially in the playoffs. It kills me not to be out there," said Nolan, who injured his foot when he blocked a blast by Blues defenseman Al MacInnis in Game Seven.
"It's something where you never know what's going to happen.
Injuries are part of playoff hockey. It's not my decision. The decision comes down to a handful of people."
Games Three and Four are in San Jose on Tuesday and Friday.
"Game Three is very pivotal," Sharks center Mike Ricci said.
"We have to come out and play our best game, and that's the bottom line."
San Jose's best chances came late in the third period. With 1:51 remaining, Belfour got his right pad on Stephane Matteau's rebound.
Dallas captain Derian Hatcher took a cross-checking penalty with a minute to go and the Sharks pulled goaltender Steve Shields for a 6-on-4 advantage. Gary Suter unloaded a slap shot from the blue line 10 seconds later, but Belfour gloved it while seated in the crease.
"During the last minute, it was definitely very intense as they were working hard for that goal," Belfour said. "There was a lot of congestion in front of the net. But I felt the guys played really well in front of me."
"They played very well defensively, but we did have some real good chances and we just did not bury them," Ricci said. "If we bury those chances, perhaps they don't look as good defensively."
Modano's second goal of the series was all Belfour needed.
Brett Hull rifled a slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle that was kicked out by Shields. But Modano got the rebound in the left circle and slid it under the diving goalie for his fourth playoff goal.
"It was a great play by Brenden (Morrow) to get it to Brett.
Brett let a real good shot go and the rebound came out high but right under my stick and I was able to slide it under Shields," said Modano, who took possession of the all-time franchise lead with his 36th career playoff goal.
Dallas nearly doubled its lead early in the second period.
Jamie Langenbrunner broke down the the right side on a shorthanded 2-on-1 but ripped a blast off the near goalpost.
San Jose is 0-for-9 on the power play in the series and 6-for-44 in the playoffs.
"They don't give you much, perhaps four or five real good chances a game. And if you miss those opportunities, that's probably going to be it for you," Sutter said. "Belfour made very big saves at the end. And when he's in that zone, there's not much in the way of rebounds."