Demitra Powers St. Louis to Overtime Win
By R.B. Fallstrom
ST. LOUIS – Pavol Demitra continued a playoff surge when he scored from in front at 2:43 of overtime as the St. Louis Blues beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 Monday night.
Demitra scored his fifth goal of the playoffs, and third in two games, off a setup from Geoff Courtnall. Demitra knifed in front of a Stars defensemen and beat Ed Belfour from in front to end the Blues' fifth overtime game in 10 postseason games early.
Demitra was the Blues' leading scorer in the regular season with 89 points, but had entered the game a team-worst minus-4. He also had an assist and has eight points in the playoffs.
Two less-likely sources of offense, faceoff specialist Mike Eastwood and rookie Jochen Hecht, also scored as the Blues cut the Stars' series lead to 2-1 heading into Game 4 Wednesday night.
The Stars, the NHL regular-season champions with a franchise-record 114 points, missed a chance to put the Blues in an almost impossible situation. Only two teams have recovered from a 3-0 series, the last the New York Islanders in 1975.
Dallas, which got goals from Darryl Sydor and Brett Hull, won Game 2 in overtime on a goal by Joe Nieuwendyk.
Sydor forced the overtime with his first goal of the playoffs at 9:08. Grant Fuhr got a glove on Pat Verbeek's drive from the slot, and Sydor tapped in the rebound.
Hecht, who was with the Blues for only three games during the regular season, had given St. Louis the lead at 4:52 of the third. Hecht, the leading scorer at Worcester of the AHL with 21 goals and 56 points who joined St. Louis on Saturday, worked a give-and-go with Demitra and slipped a backhander past Belfour.
The tight-checking game was in stark contrast to Game 2, which was filled with odd-man rushes. The Blues, playing in front of the team's first sellout crowd of the playoffs, outshot the Stars 24-18 in regulation.
A four-minute high-sticking penalty on Blues captain Chris Pronger, who caught Derian Hatcher in the face, helped the Stars get off to a fast start. Hull scored his second goal of the playoffs, and only Dallas' third in 33 power-play opportunities, with a shot from the left circle off a feed from Nieuwendyk at 3:07.
The Blues got off only three shots in the first period, but tied it on a fluky goal at 2:58 of the second. Ricard Persson flipped the puck end-over-end toward the net and it deflected off Mike Eastwood's glove and Sergei Zubov's stick before eluding Belfour.
It was Eastwood's seventh career playoff goal in 62 games and second point in 10 games this postseason.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press