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Pittsburgh nabs 3-2 series lead; Buffalo, St. Louis, Dallas advance

Lemieux roughs up Capitals

Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2001

WASHINGTON -- All it took was half a minute of Mario Lemieux to put the Washington Capitals on the brink of elimination.

Lemieux had a goal and an assist in a 31-second span of the first period as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Capitals 2-1 Saturday.

''That was huge,'' Lemieux said. ''Right off the bat, we got off to a good start.''

In 94 career playoff games, Lemieux has 161 points. One more victory by the Penguins, the team Lemieux owns, will advance Pittsburgh to the second round.

Pittsburgh, which has won five of the six playoff meetings between the teams, improved to 7-0 against Washington in Game 5s. The Penguins lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can eliminate the Capitals at home Monday night. Game 7, if necessary, would be Tuesday night back in Washington.

''Obviously, it's not over yet,'' Lemieux said. ''It's going to be another battle. They're going to be desperate, and we have to be ready for a hard 60 minutes.''

Andrew Ference gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. Sergei Gonchar scored Washington's lone goal in the second.

''For us this was Game 7,'' said Jaromir Jagr, who with Lemieux set up Ference's goal. ''We had to close the door or we would be in big trouble.''

Eight of the last nine playoff games between the teams -- including six straight from Game 2 last year until Game 2 this year -- were decided by one goal. The team that has scored first has won each game of this series.

''That was the key,'' Jagr said of the quick goals.

Lemieux, who did not record a shot in the 1-0 Game 1 loss, has three goals and three assists in the four games since -- adding to the totals accrued before his 3 1/2-year retirement.

The teams, who combined for seven goals in the first three games before a 4-3 contest in Game 4, returned to a defensive style of play. Pittsburgh had more chances in the first period, before Washington countered in the second.

''One bad shift in the game and they score two goals off it,'' Capitals coach Ron Wilson said. ''Other than that I can't find any flaws in our game except that we couldn't find a way to score.''

Washington mounted pressure in the final minute with an extra skater, but couldn't generate many chances.

''The series is not over by any means,'' Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig said.

''It's not like they outplayed us. We had a couple of big breakdowns in that one-minute span and they capitalized.''

A big scrum ensued at the final buzzer. Four misconducts, two on each team, and a major penalty to Jeff Halpern for spearing Pittsburgh's Darius Kasparaitis were called.

''He's cheap-shotting us all game,'' Halpern said. ''Obviously, you get frustrated and you can't do anything about it.''

Blues 2, Sharks 1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Roman Turek stopped 30 shots, and St. Louis broke open a scoreless game with two second-period goals in 52 seconds as the Blues advanced to the Western Conference semifinals.

Cory Stillman and Pavol Demitra struck for quick scores late in the second, but the Blues owed the victory to team defense and to Turek, who erased memories of last season's playoff crash-and-burn against the Sharks with a fine performance.

St. Louis won the Presidents' Trophy last season but lost a seven-game series to San Jose. A year later, with a less glossy regular-season record but much more playoff determination, the Blues earned payback with a 4-2 series victory.

Brad Stuart scored for San Jose.

Sabres 8, Flyers 0

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Dave Andreychuk led an early barrage with a power-play goal and two assists as Buffalo stunned Philadelphia to win the first-round Eastern Conference series 4-2.

Buffalo scored five goals on nine shots on Roman Cechmanek, who was replaced in goal by Brian Boucher after allowing Jean-Pierre Dumont's breakaway goal 3:25 into the second period.

Dominik Hasek made only 24 saves for his sixth career playoff shutout. Dumont and Chris Gratton each scored twice for Buffalo, and Doug Gilmour, Donald Audette and Steve Hienze added goals.

Kings 3, Red Wings 2

DETROIT -- Ziggy Palffy had a goal and an assist as the Los Angeles Kings, down 2-0 a week ago, beat Detroit to take a 3-2 lead in the first-round Western Conference series.

Ian Laperriere and Adam Deadmarsh also scored for Los Angeles, which handed Detroit its first home loss in 2001. The Wings hadn't lost a game at Joe Louis Arena this year, posting a 19-0-2 record since losing on Dec. 27.

Vyacheslav Kozlov and Chris Chelios scored for Detroit.

Stars 3, Oilers 1

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Joe Nieuwendyk returned from a knee injury and scored with 2:53 left to lead Dallas to the Western Conference semifinals with a victory over Edmonton.

Nieuwendyk, injured in a knee-on-knee collision with Edmonton's Scott Ferguson in Game 1 of the series, broke a 1-1 tie at 17:07 of the third, and Mike Modano added an empty-net goal with 44 seconds remaining as the Stars won the first-round series 4-2.

Brett Hull, who tied it 1-1 at 8:57 of the third, set up Nieuwendyk at the Edmonton blue line for a shot that beat goalie Tommy Salo.

Ryan Smyth scored his third goal of the series 4:44 into the game to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.

Friday's game

Hurricanes 3, Devils 2

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Winning two straight first-round playoff games against the defending Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils has suddenly given the Carolina Hurricanes momentum.

But winning the Eastern Conference series is another matter.

''They still have to win two games,'' Devils forward Patrik Elias said after Carolina kept its season alive Friday night with its second straight victory. ''As good a team as we have, we are not going to let it happen.''

The win cut the Devils' lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2 with Game 6 set for Sunday in Raleigh, N.C.

It also moved the Hurricanes a little closer to becoming only the third team in NHL playoff history to come back from a 3-0 deficit. The Toronto Maple Leafs did it in 1942 against Detroit, and the New York Islanders did it in 1975 against Pittsburgh.

''We've been in this situation for over a month,'' said Carolina goaltender Arturs Irbe, who was outstanding in making 37 saves. ''That's the way it went for us at the end of the season. We were happy just to make the playoffs.''



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