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NHL Section

  Third-Period Outburst Helps Stars Even Series at 1

By Jaime Aron
Associated Press
Tuesday, May 25, 1999; 3:11 a.m. EDT

Stars Logo DALLAS -- The key to victory in the NHL's Western Conference finals seems to be having a goal taken away.

A nullified goal midway through the third period spurred the Dallas Stars to two that did count as they beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 Monday night to even the series at a game apiece.

Colorado won the opener 2-1 Saturday night with a pair of goals scored after replay officials declared a probable score inconclusive.

The series moves to Denver for Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Friday.

Pat Verbeek had the goal that wasn't for Dallas. With the game tied at 2, the puck hit Verbeek's skate and stick and nudged past Colorado goalie Patrick Roy.

Replays, however, showed Verbeek was in the crease.

``We really dug in after that,'' Verbeek said. ``We started to win one-on-one battles.''

The Stars played much scrapier than they did in Game 1, but they really went into overdrive following the lost goal.

Joe Nieuwendyk wristed in a rebound with 8:08 left and Mike Modano iced the victory with another goal a few minutes later.

``We didn't have much of a choice but to keep firing the puck,'' Nieuwendyk said. ``Patrick's been in a bit of a zone the last week to 10 days, so we couldn't be satisfied with just one shot. We were getting good looks and eventually we found some holes.''

Dallas took 15 shots in each period, its most in the regulation in the playoffs. The 45 shots were the most Roy has seen in a postseason game since 1997.

``They were desperate, they really needed that game,'' said Roy, who had stopped 176 of 184 shots in his previous five games, all Avalanche wins. ``It seems to me that we didn't understand that.''

Colorado lost on the road for the first time in the playoffs after tying an NHL postseason record with seven straight wins. Now the Avalanche return to McNichols Arena, where they are 2-4 in the playoffs.

``We're going home and it's now the best out of five,'' coach Bob Hartley said. ``We're not happy with our performance, but let's not go crazy over this.''

Colorado went crazy in the second period Saturday when Valeri Kamensky's deflection of Claude Lemieux's shot went under Dallas goalie Ed Belfour and appeared to be stopped by a padding at the base of the net.

The stuffing was supposed to be pushed back. Officials could've given the Avalanche the point if they decided the padding prevented the puck from crossing the goal line, but they said replays were unclear.

Stars coach Ken Hitchcock thought his team wasn't physical and aggressive enough in Game 1, but they did so from the get-go in Game 2.

``We played this game as if it was a seventh game, and that's the way we need to play the rest of the way,'' Hitchcock said. ``We need to be a street fighter.''

Colorado's Adam Deadmarsh said they tried answering Dallas' style change.

``We tried to play a pretty defensive game,'' he said. ``We did for the first two periods, but we seemed to be in our end a lot in the third.''

The Avalanche had just one shot in the final period and 19 for the game.

Stars goalie Ed Belfour allowed two goals on rebounds, just like in Game 1.

Colorado's Game 2 scorers were Sandis Ozolinsh on a first-period power play to put Colorado up 1-0 and a diving shot by Milan Hejduk that made it 2-2 in the second period.

Peter Forsberg and Lemieux assisted on Ozolinsh's goal, upping their point streaks to six games apiece, but they were hardly heard from again.

Theo Fleury ended his career-long four-game playoff point drought with an assist on Hejduk's goal.

Forsberg's 13 assists and 20 points lead the playoffs. Lemieux has seven assists in five games and 11 in the postseason after racking up just 24 in 82 regular-season games.

Dallas' early goals came from unlikely sources. Dave Reid scored for the first time in 20 playoff games and Sergei Zubov fired in his first of the postseason.

The only bad news for Dallas was losing veteran forward Benoit Hogue to a torn ligament in his left knee. He'll be out the rest of the playoffs.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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