Work in Sports
DENVER (Ticker) -- Ed Belfour played another stellar game for the Dallas Stars. This time, he had some help.
Belfour recorded his second straight 38-save effort and Brett Hull had two goals and an assist as the Stars made the most of their chances and evened the Western Conference finals at two wins apiece with a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Mike Modano had three assists for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who had only 15 shots but scored on four of their first 10 against Patrick Roy. Dallas regained home-ice advantage by handing Colorado its first loss at the Pepsi Center in eight playoff games.
"We showed a lot of character today," said Stars center Joe Nieuwendyk. "Some people thought this series was over. Now it's the best-of-three. I think we played well, but just because we are going home doesn't mean it will be easy."
Hull, Modano and Nieuwendyk combined for only three shots in a 2-0 loss on Friday as Roy recorded his second shutout of the series. But the trio accounted for seven points this afternoon.
"When we are skating we are more effective," Modano said. "It was tough to get in the flow the other day. Today, no penalties. We made some good plays, not too many shots, but our chances were quality ones."
Nieuwendyk put the Stars in front for good with a power-play goal 7:12 into the first period. Hull made it 2-0 just over 10 minutes later and answered a second-period goal by former Star Dave Reid.
Defenseman Richard Matvichuk capped the scoring 4:59 into the third for Dallas, which hosts Game Five on Tuesday.
"We knew how important this game was. We talked about it for the last day and a half," Avalanche left wing Dave Andreychuk said. "Game Fours are very important, especially if you can go up 3-1. It's 2-2 and we knew it was going to be a long series. We expected that. We expected them to play better. They did. And we're going to have to bounce back."
The Stars scored first for the first time in the series. Colorado rookie Serge Aubin was penalized for roughing at 5:39 and Nieuwendyk made it 1-0 with 27 seconds left on the ensuing power play.
Jamie Langenbrunner centered from behind the net and Nieuwendyk flipped the puck inside the left goalpost while falling to the ice for his fifth playoff goal.
Dallas put the Avalanche in a 2-0 hole for only the second time in the postseason when Hull scored on the Stars' fourth shot of the game. Modano tipped the puck away from Andreychuk at the top of the right faceoff circle and whipped a pass off the boards. Hull snapped a shot from the top of the slot inside the left post for his 83rd career playoff goal, moving past Maurice Richard into sixth place on the all-time list.
Colorado had a chance to halve the deficit but Joe Sakic put a rebound just wide of the left post while staring at a half-empty net in the final minute of the first period.
Reid ended a 24-game playoff scoring drought at 1:43 of the second period. Modano turned over the puck at his own blue line and Reid deked around his former teammate before wristing a shot from the left circle over Belfour's left shoulder.
But Hull got his second of the game at 7:52 off another great play by Modano, who one-handed the puck off the boards in his own end. Hull got it at his own blue line, moved down the right side on a 2-on-1 and rifled the Stars' seventh shot from the top of the circle past Roy's right skate.
"The only goal I'd like to see back is the one by Hull on the 2-on-1," Roy said. "Other than that, I thought they worked well around my net. They were sharp around the boards and they took advantage of their scoring chances."
Meanwhile, Belfour was keeping Colorado at bay. He slid to his right to stop Chris Drury on a 2-on-1 early in the second period and got his left pad on Peter Forsberg's rebound attempt three minutes later.
"I don't pay attention to the number of shots. I just try to stay focused on the whole game," Belfour said. "We usually don't give up that many shots, but it really doesn't matter as a goalie if you are seeing the puck well."
Belfour also helped the Stars killed a 64-second two-man advantage late in the period.
"We knew we could play with this team. When we killed the 5-on-3, that was the turning point," Dallas right wing Mike Keane said. "We got good chances from all four lines and that got the momentum back for us."
Outshot 31-8 over the first two periods, the Stars sealed the victory early in the third. Roy made a left pad stop on Hull's blast from above the left circle, but Matvichuk gathered the rebound on his backhand, slid the puck to his forehand and put it in for his second postseason goal.
Both teams got injured players back. Defenseman Adam Foote was back in the lineup for Colorado after missing Game Three with an eye injury. Rookie Brenden Morrow made a surprise return for Dallas after he was expected to miss the rest of the playoffs with an ankle injury.
"(Belfour) played solid. He played square, he played smart," Foote said. "That's going to happen. You have to forget about it and keep coming the same way. I don't think we gave them a whole lot tonight."