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  •   Stars Blank Blues, 3-0

    Stars Logo By Denne H. Freeman
    Associated Press
    Thursday, May 6, 1999; 11:28 p.m. EDT

    DALLAS – Brett Hull and Pat Verbeek scored their first goals of the playoffs and Ed Belfour stopped 23 shots Thursday night as the Dallas Stars beat the St. Louis Blues 3-0 in the first game of their Western Conference semifinals.

    The teams will meet in the second game of the best-of-7 series in Dallas on Saturday night.

    Belfour earned his fifth shutout and 50th career playoff victory by shutting down the leg-weary Blues, who were involved in an exhausting seven-game series with Phoenix while Dallas was resting for nine days.

    Hull scored his first playoff goal for the Stars just 49 seconds into the second period to make it a 2-0 lead. Hull, who played 10 years for St. Louis, skated with the puck to the right circle and unleashed one of his powerful slap shots which Grant Fuhr saw go between his legs into the net.

    Verbeek, who missed the first-round Edmonton series because of a knee injury, celebrated his return by scoring a first-period goal.

    Joe Nieuwendyk, who has two game-winning playoff goals for the Stars, split two St. Louis defenders at mid-ice and rifled a shot at Fuhr, who made the save only to see Verbeek slap home the rebound to give Dallas a 1-0 lead.

    Mike Modano put the game away against the gambling Blues with 31.9 seconds left on an unassisted goal as St. Louis pulled Fuhr from the net after a Dallas penalty for a 6-on-4 attack.

    Dallas couldn't convert on seven power-play attempts while St. Louis had five chances with the extra man without converting.

    Dallas swept Edmonton in four games to advance to the second round while St. Louis was extended to seven games against Phoenix by winning three games in a row. Dallas held a 2-1-1 edge over the Blues in the regular season.

    © Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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