June 2, 2000
STARS 2, DEVILS 1
Hull Shoots, and Ties Series With Devils
By JOE LAPOINTE
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., June 1 -- Brett Hull scored the goal that won
the Stanley Cup for the Dallas Stars last season, and he leads the
tournament this season with 11. A veteran who has proven he is more
than just a star shooter, Hull retains the finishing touch to break
open a game, and to close one, too.
He scored on the Stars' first shot tonight in the first period
against the Devils and he scored on their last shot, with 4 minutes
16 seconds remaining. The goals were enough to give the Stars a 2-1
victory and allow them to tie the four-of-seven-game Stanley Cup
finals at one game apiece. They helped make up for a 7-3 Devils
victory on Tuesday night in which the Stars were embarrassed.
"Everyone watched the tape, and you have half the guys saying: 'Just
melt it. Throw it out,' " Hull said, referring to the review of Game
1. "I said: 'Well, I think you have to watch it. You have to learn
from your mistakes.' "
And the Stars did. The Devils might not have the same negative
reaction to tonight's visual record, but they will see things they do
not like. They will see Martin Brodeur, the goalie, missing Hull's
first shot on the glove side, the kind of puck he usually grabs.
On the second goal, they will see Mike Modano putting the puck by
defenseman Brian Rafalski, then working it to Jere Lehtinen, who shot
it toward the goalie. As Hull went to the net, defenseman Scott
Stevens tried to cover him. But Hull got his stick free and
redirected the puck into the goal. Larry Robinson, the coach of the
Devils, called Hull "the best pure shooter in the league."
"He doesn't need a lot of chances," Robinson added.
The Devils' goal was scored by Alexander Mogilny in the first period.
Games 3 and 4 of the series will be played on Saturday and Monday
nights in Dallas, where Reunion Arena's ice surface can be slushy and
mushy, especially in the warmer months. Modano was already using it
as a psychological ploy.
"The weather has been nice and hot in Dallas," Modano said. "So I
think that is something that we have gotten used to over the years
and I think some teams may have trouble with that."
Robinson said he had trouble with what he called his team's worst
game since midway through the previous series against the
Philadelphia Flyers. Although Robinson did not dwell on the subject,
that was also when Brodeur was giving up soft goals and big rebounds
and making poor clearing passes. Robinson instead dwelled on other
aspects of the team's performance.
"Our decisions tonight with the puck were very poor," he said, adding
that he thought Dallas was offside on one of Hull's goals. "I spoke
to one of the linesmen about the play and he missed it," Robinson
The shot that won the game was the 17th, and last, of the game for
the Stars. Brodeur said Lehtinen "kind of got a backhand and I kind
of missed it and he kind of missed it."
"I went to grab it with my glove and Hull just came along and batted
it out of the air," Brodeur added. Reflecting on the momentum of the
series, Brodeur said tonight's defeat was not "the end of the world."
"They did score at the right time," he said of the Stars. "They
scored big goals. They played a better, more sound game. They gave us
less opportunities. In Game 1 everything went in for us, and it was
the other way around tonight."
Ed Belfour, the Stars' goalie, stopped 27 of 28 New Jersey shots. He
has won nine consecutive games after a Stars defeat. On Tuesday he
complained of cold symptoms and the distracting effects of
medication. He said he felt better tonight.
Mogilny beat Belfour on the glove side with a wrist shot after Scott
Gomez set him up. Gomez carried the puck through the neutral zone and
drew three Stars toward him. As they converged, Gomez kicked the puck
ahead with his skate to his stick and then found his linemate cutting
free into the Dallas zone.
Most of the game saw tight checking by both teams. Patrik Elias and
Petr Sykora, the hot wings of the Devils, occasionally forced
themselves free for odd-man rushes. But even those were quickly
stifled by either Belfour or the Dallas backcheckers. Players for
both sides were rigorous about their positioning and careful about
any gambles so that every mistake -- and there were not many --
seemed to stand out.
Derian Hatcher, the big Dallas captain and defenseman, said: "It was
almost like a chess match. It's been a long time since we've played a
game that strategic on both sides."
The Devils got good scoring chances from Claude Lemieux, who had five
shots on goal, one soft head butt against Jon Sim and one helmet
removal against Hull. Also coming close was Randy McKay, the right
wing on the checking line, who put four shots on goal and played his
second consecutive strong game. The Devils were encouraged by their 7-
2 road record in these playoffs, but they would much rather be going
to Texas with a two-games-to-none lead.
"It's so frustrating," McKay said. "We could have won that game. It
was up for grabs."