Work in Sports
DALLAS (Ticker) -- The Dallas Stars are headed back to the Stanley Cup Finals and Ray Bourque will have to wait another year to fulfill his dream.
Sergei Zubov and Mike Modano scored first-period power-play goals and Roman Lyashenko was credited with a crazy game-winner as the Stars held off a furious rally for a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game Seven of the Western Conference finals.
Bourque agreed to end his long tenure with the Boston Bruins in an effort to get the Stanley Cup that has eluded him during his 21-year career.
"I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat," said Bourque, who is a free agent. "It's a great team that had a great opportunity to go to the Cup.
"I'm going to take a little time to sit down and evaluate things and go from there. Colorado is definitely on the top of my list, but I'm not the only guy involved in the decision. The Avalanche turned out to be a perfect fit for me. I definitely enjoy Denver and it would be very nice to return. I think I have another year left in me and I'm going to be a free agent for the first time in my career."
With Colorado down 3-0 heading into the final period, Bourque helped the charge to get back in the game in an odd way. He took a holding penalty at 4:22 of the third period, but the Avalanche were able to get a shorthanded goal when Peter Forsberg redirected a pass from Chris Drury, who was just below the right faceoff circle, at 5:25.
Just over three minutes later, Bourque took a slap shot from the right point that Milan Hejduk deflected down through Ed Belfour's pads to make it 3-2.
Colorado pulled Patrick Roy for an extra attacker with 1:25 remaining. With 10 seconds left, Bourque nearly engineered an improbable tying goal when he lofted a wrist shot from the right point that Adam Deadmarsh redirected off the left goalpost.
"I just tried to get the puck up and toward the net and hoped that we could get a rebound or some kind of deflection," Bourque said. "I did not see the shot go through, I just heard it deflect off the post. We played so hard to come back and we came so close to tying it up."
"Ray shot it and I tried to just get a piece of it with any part of my body," Deadmarsh explained. "It was headed in the right direction, but it was a couple of inches off. It's really a bad feeling to come so close to sending it into overtime. I don't know how to explain my feelings right now."
Belfour said he got a piece of the puck.
"I knew the shot was coming from the point and I just wanted to try to get in front of it," he said. "It hit me in the hip and deflected towards the post. It was like slow motion when I saw the puck going toward the post."
Seconds earlier, Bourque's slapper from the top of the slot was smothered by Belfour, who enjoyed rhythmic chants of "Eddie's better" from fans at Reunion Arena. Belfour improved to 4-0 in Game Sevens, while Roy fell to 2-5.
Belfour also is 16-2 when able to eliminate an opponent and has won eight straight playoff games after a loss.
"When we were up three goals, I told myself to keep focus," Belfour said. "Sometimes there's a little bit of a letdown when you get a lead like that. I think that's what happened to us tonight."
Next up are the New Jersey Devils, fresh off their 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference finals.
The defending champion Stars, who also needed seven games in last season's Western Conference final against Colorado, and Devils each will be seeking their second Stanley Cup.
"Home ice definitely helped us," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said.
"When we lost Game Seven to Edmonton (in 1997), we vowed as an organization that we were going to give it everything we had and not allow that to happen again. You need to throw everything out there and play like you're not afraid to win."
Lyashenko scored just his second postseason goal at 5:31 of the second period and it came in strange fashion. The puck found its way past Roy after hitting the back of the leg of Lyashenko, who was kneeling to the front left of the the goaltender.
Before reaching Lyashenko, the right-point shot from Darryl Sydor hit Drury and then Dallas' Mike Keane.
Zubov got the Stars going 6:36 into the game when he one-timed a low slap shot off the right leg of Colorado defenseman Aaron Miller and past Roy from the top of the slot.
Dave Andreychuk, whose elbow in Game Six gave Dallas defenseman Richard Matvichuk a concussion, took a roughing penalty with 16 seconds left in the first period and Modano, with a little luck, made the Avalanche pay dearly 10 seconds later.
Matvichuk took a slap shot from the left point and it deflected to Modano, who was stationed to the right of the crease. Modano tried to swat the puck but did not hit it cleanly. But it popped over Roy's right shoulder and into the top left corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.
"On my goal, everything seemed to be in slow motion," Modano said. "It deflected up off the defenseman's stick and just dropped over Patrick's shoulder."
"We said all along that this is an evenly matched series," Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. "We had some tough breaks and a lot of bounces didn't go our way."
Dallas is 8-1 at home in the playoffs with Belfour going 11-1 in his last 12 postseason game at Reunion Arena. But the Stars will have to win at least once in New Jersey, since the Devils have home-ice advantage, with Game One set for Tuesday.
Dallas swept the season series, winning 2-1 in overtime at home October 22 and 3-2 in New Jersey on March 15. Zubov and Modano had the game-winners.