Dallas pulls even with Avs

Posted: Monday, May 22, 2000

DENVER -- Being outshot 39-15 in a must-win game on the road isn't the usual formula for success. But thanks to Ed Belfour, the Dallas Stars regained home-ice advantage.

Belfour was brilliant in goal, recording 38 saves, to lead the Stars to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

Brett Hull had two goals and an assist as the Stars squared the best-of-seven Western Conference finals at 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday night at Dallas.

Mike Modano added three assists for Dallas, which scored four times on its first 11 shots.

''We're sitting here at 2-2 with three games left, two at home,'' Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''Our team feels pretty good about itself right now.

''We got the win in this building that we badly needed. Colorado plays perfect in this building. We play really well in our building, too. The game changes dramatically when it goes into our building now.''

Hitchcock, who switched his lines in an effort to inject life into a squad that was shut out twice in the first three games of the series, said Hull's second goal was critical.

''They scored their goal after an unfortunate turnover (to make it 2-1), and we were on our heels,'' Hitchcock said. ''That goal by Hull was huge for us.''

But Hitchcock reserved most of his praise for Belfour.

''Eddie was terrific,'' Hitchcock said. ''He's been terrific the whole series. He's played four great hockey games.''

Belfour said he ''felt real strong the whole game and I was seeing the puck real well. All I had to do was make the first save. Guys took care of the rebounds.''

Belfour, who had 38 saves in two straight games, admitted, ''They were definitely two strong games for me.''

Asked about the shot imbalance, Belfour said, ''I don't pay attention to the board. I try and stay focused on making the next save.''

The Stars focused on not being careless and not how many pucks they sent towards Patrick Roy.

''We weren't concerned about the number of shots,'' Hull said. ''We concentrated on not making mistakes first, and then making the most of the shots when we got them.''

Roy stopped 11 shots for Colorado, which lost for the first time at home in the playoffs after seven wins.

''Dallas played well with the lead, and whenever we had a good scoring chance, Belfour was there,'' Colorado coach Bob Hartley said. ''We had great pressure and we put tons of pucks at the nets. But it's not the number of shots, it's the number of goals.''

Joe Nieuwendyk and Hull scored first-period goals as Dallas, despite being outshot 10-4, took a 2-0 lead.

Nieuwendyk, stationed to the right of the goal, took a pass from Jamie Langenbrunner from behind the net and beat Roy on a power play at 7:12.

It was Nieuwendyk's fifth goal of the playoffs but his first point in this series.

Hull scored his sixth goal of the playoffs at 17:30. Modano intercepted Dave Andreychuk's pass and fed Hull in the slot.

Colorado missed a prime scoring chance later in the period. Belfour stopped Milan Hejduk's shot and Peter Forsberg batted the rebound toward the goal, but Joe Sakic hit the post from just left of the crease.

The Avalanche turned up the pressure in the second period, outshooting the Stars 21-4 in the period, but Dallas emerged with its two-goal advantage intact.

Dave Reid made it 2-1, beating Belfour from the left circle after a turnover by Modano at 1:43.

But the Stars countered six minutes later. Modano slapped the puck along the right boards to Hull, who scored from the right circle at 7:52.

Belfour kicked away Forsberg's rebound shot from point-blank range, and the Stars also withstood a 5-on-3 disadvantage for 1:04.

After Richard Matvichuk's rebound goal at 4:39 of the third period, the game deteriorated into a series of fights and skirmishes. Fighting majors were assessed to Dallas' Derian Hatcher and Colorado's Adam Deadmarsh.

Dallas' Scott Thornton earned a game misconduct, and automatic ejection, with two minutes left.

Colorado defenseman Adam Foote, who missed Game 3 with an eye injury, returned to the lineup, as did Dallas forward Brenden Morrow, who broke his right ankle just eight days earlier in Game 1.

Morrow was thought to be out for the remainder of the playoffs after he was injured in Game 1 of the series.

Play was delayed for eight minutes early in the third period to replace a panel of glass that shattered on Ray Bourque's clearing pass.

The teams also met in the conference finals last year, and Dallas won the series 4-3 en route to winning the Stars' first Stanley Cup title.

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