DALLAS -- Joe Nieuwendyk is once again coming through for the Dallas Stars when they need him the most.
Nieuwendyk re-directed a long blast from Richard Matvichuk 12:10 into overtime Tuesday night, giving the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche and putting the Stanley Cup champions within a win of returning to the finals.
''We had some good luck there,'' Nieuwendyk said. ''It seemed like the only way to get to the net is to outrace a guy. I was able to do that and just got my stick on it.''
Niewuendyk beat rookie Martin Skoula to get just enough of the puck to send it past Colorado goalie Patrick Roy and to give Dallas a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals. Game 6 is Thursday night in Denver.
Nieuwendyk was the MVP of the playoffs last year after tying an NHL record with six postseason game-winners, two of them in overtime. It was only fitting then that he ended Dallas' first overtime game of these playoffs.
His goal was the Stars' first this series that didn't come from the top line of Brett Hull, Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen. The trio came up big in the second period, though, as Lehtinen and Hull each scored and Modano assisted on both.
Stars goalie Ed Belfour also had another outstanding night, stopping 29 shots. He's made 105 saves in three games and has yet to allow the Avalanche to score more than twice in a game.
''He's got a strong focus,'' Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. ''He has to be the difference for us if we expect to beat Colorado.''
Belfour was at his best when it mattered most. He blocked five shots during a power play in the final minutes of regulation, then in overtime turned away Joe Sakic on a breakaway and handled a three-shot flurry from Sakic and Dave Andreychuk. Andreychuk chopped his stick at the ice in frustration when it ended.
Roy, who allowed four goals in the first 11 shots in Game 4, failed to protect a 1-0 lead and had some shaky moments. He was solid in overtime, turning away strong shots from Hull, Modano and Sylvain Cote before the bouncing finale got past him.
''It deflected right in front of me and I made the save sideways,'' Roy said. ''After that, I saw the puck hit the post and then cross the line.''
When these teams met in the conference finals last season, Colorado went home for Game 6 leading 3-2 only to see Dallas win in seven games. Now the Avalanche, coming off their first consecutive losses since mid-March, will try doing the same thing.
''We're still confident,'' said Sakic, who hasn't scored this series and has just two goals in 15 playoff games. ''We've got to keep doing the same things and maybe they'll go in.''
Colorado's power play remained stuck in neutral. The Avalanche went 0-for-4 for the second straight game, making them 1-for-18 over the last three games.
This was the first overtime game of the series, which is surprising considering four of the five regular-season meetings went beyond the third period. Colorado won three and there was a tie.
This also was the first overtime game this postseason for Dallas, which last summer had eight, including two triple-overtime games.
Colorado led 1-0 midway through the first period when Jon Klemme flicked a rebound over Belfour. Milan Hejduk tied it at 2 by scoring on a great feed from Sakic 2:19 into the third period.
Lehtinen tied it early in the second period by controlling a rebound and backhanding it past Roy. Hull made it 2-1 late in the period by blasting in a one-timer on a power play.
''It was a howitzer,'' said Hull, who moved into the lead for postseason points with 19 and tied Modano for the playoff lead in goals with eight.
Hull -- whose father, Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, watched from a rink-level walkway -- also tied former New York Islanders star Mike Bossy for fifth place on the career postseason list with 85 goals.
The save of the game was made by Matvichuk, who in the first period reached from outside the crease to swat away a shot by Shjon Podein just before it crossed the goal line. Belfour had come out to play the puck after failing to catch a long shot, then made a poor pass straight to Podein and fell trying to get the puck back.
Dallas lost a key player when Jamie Langenbrunner went down with a knee injury in the first period. He's expected to miss Game 6.
Colorado's first-period goal was the first allowed by the Stars in 13 home playoff games, setting an NHL record.
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