Work in Sports
DALLAS (Ticker) -- The Dallas Stars won the battle and evened the war as Mike Modano scored twice en route to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Brett Hull also scored and Ed Belfour stopped 20 shots for the Stars, who rebounded from Saturday's 2-0 loss to even the Western Conference finals between the ever-growing rivals at one win apiece.
"It was Stars hockey tonight," Belfour said. "We had hard checks and tough defense. We know if we play like that, we'll have a lot of success."
The physical nature of play from Game One spilled into tonight's battle, with a trip to the hospital and icedowns between shifts serving as highlights.
Modano scored his seventh and eighth goals of the playoffs and Hull added his fifth as the defending Stanley Cup champions sent the rematch of last year's conference finalists to Colorado even. Game Three is Friday in Denver.
"There's a lot of emotion because there's a lot at stake," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Neither team is going to go away easily. We're not going to give up easily what we have, and they're going to work very hard to take it."
Already without future Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, the Avalanche lost Adam Foote -- his defensive partner -- to an eye injury early in the game, and the loss caught up with Colorado.
Modano, who normally plays against Colorado's top defensive pairing, sprung free for the hard-earned equalizer in the second period and later rifled home the go-ahead goal on the power play.
"Tonight, I was a little more aggressive, as far as my skating," said Modano, who has scored in eight of Dallas' last 11 games.
Dallas had the man advantage on Modano's second goal after Dave Andreychuk was called for slashing Stars captain Derian Hatcher in retaliation to an earlier hit. Both players iced down their wrists after the call.
While Dallas lost rookie left wing Brenden Morrow to a broken ankle in Game One, Foote suffered the only significant injury of Game Two. His eye was swollen shut after it was hit with an inadvertent stick by Jere Lehtinen, forcing a trip to the hospital.
"You have to be careful with your stick at all times," said Andreychuk, who thought a penalty should have been called. "Obviously it was an accident. But it is a penalty and you have to call it."
The injury came moments after the Stars had a goal disallowed as off-ice officials ruled that Kirk Muller kicked the puck before it deflected off Avalanche defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh's right heel and through Patrick Roy's pads.
Colorado opened the scoring 25 seconds into the second period as Ozolinsh capitalized on one of three minor penalties by normally cool-headed Joe Nieuwendyk, snapping a shot through traffic and by Belfour.
Lehtinen, the two-time defending Selke Award winner and Stars top-line left wing who played for the first time this postseason in Game One, had a solid night, assisting on Modano's first goal and Hull's decisive tally.
"Lehtinen is playing better and better," Hitchcock said. "He had a lot of jump and was getting into the play more tonight than he did in Game One."
Modano was credited with the equalizer at 5:24 of the second when he crashed to the net with Colorado captain Joe Sakic in search of a rebound. The puck ended up rolling over the goal line after the two barrelled into Roy.
"I should be upset," Roy said. "I thought the puck was under my pads and I was pushed into the net. I thought it was a bad call."
"It was very important to get that first goal on the board in this series," Hull said. "Confidence is a very critical thing in the playoffs. You don't want to go too long in a stretch without scoring a goal against a guy like Patrick Roy."
For the second straight game, Roy was not spared the physical play as he was sent flying by Nieuwendyk's trip in the first period. Nieuwendyk also was called for high-sticking and cross-checking.
A scramble in front of Colorado's net at 9:05 of the second resulted in four penalties, including three by the Avalanche, giving the Stars a two-minute, two-man advantage. But Nieuwendyk later was called for cross-checking and Dallas was unable to snap the tie.
Officials caught Andreychuk's slash with 3:14 to go in the period and Modano cashed in, taking a cross-ice diagonal feed from Richard Matvichuk in the low right faceoff circle and snapping a shot over Roy's left shoulder for a 2-1 lead.
"That was a bad play by me," Andreychuk said. "He (referee) didn't see the first one, so I shouldn't have retaliated. It was not a smart play."
"Overall, I thought we played an undisciplined game and we allowed them to score the big goal on the power play," Roy said. "There's no doubt that they played better than we did. We just didn't play a solid game."
Modano's second of the game gave him a share of the playoff goal-scoring lead with Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr and San Jose's Owen Nolan, both of whom are out of the playoffs.
Hull made it 3-1 at 5:48 of the third. After Colorado rookie defenseman Martin Skoula lost his balance behind his net, Hull took a feed from Lehtinen above the right hashmark and one-timed the puck inside the left goalpost.
Hull tied Hall of Famer Maurice "Rocket" Richard for sixth all-time with his 82nd playoff goal.
"I feel that it's my job to either create scoring opportunitities or score myself," he said. "Sometimes our system of play doesn't allow for great chances. But fortunately tonight, we had a number of great opportunities."
Peter Forsberg silenced the crowd with his sixth goal of the playoffs with 5:37 left as Colorado got within 3-2. But Belfour kept the lead.
En route to evening his marquee head-to-head matchup with Roy at seven wins apiece, Belfour made a right-pad save on rookie Serge Aubin's quick shot from the low slot with 2:20 left.
"I just tried to get it on net," Aubin said. "I wanted to go high blocker, but I brought the puck further into me than I wanted to. Sakic made an excellent pass and I was still able to get a decent shot away, but Belfour made a great save. Next time, I'll make sure to put it in."
Roy could not skate to the bench for an extra attacker until the 19:25 mark. Any last chance the Avalanche had at the tying goal was waved off when Modano outlegged Ozolinsh to negate an icing with 15 seconds to play.
"We forced them to play our way rather than them forcing us to play their way," Modano said. "Tonight, we were the hunter and not the hunted."