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Sports

Friday, June 11, 1999

Stars outshine Sabres, 4-2

By KEN RAPPOPORT

AP Hockey Writer

DALLAS (AP) The Dallas Stars have lost the home-ice advantage and possibly Mike Modano, and they're going to Buffalo for the next two games of the Stanley Cup finals. It could be worse.

The Stars pulled themselves out of a tough spot with a 4-2 victory in Game 2 on Thursday night, tying the best-of-7 series at a game apiece.

"A good win. We are back in the series," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said, relieved that his team doesn't face an 2-0 deficit in the series, which resumes in Buffalo with Game 3 on Saturday night.

The Stars, who lost the opener 3-2 in overtime, played like it was a desperate situation.

"I think we came out pretty well again, just like we did in Game 1," said Craig Ludwig, one of the Stars' goal-scorers. "But the difference is we continued to play throughout the game. In Game 1, we didn't play the complete 60 minutes."

The Stars' victory could be costly. They lost Modano, an All-Star center, to a wrist injury the last 10 minutes of the game, and the team said it didn't know if he would be available for Game 3.

A report by ESPN said Modano broke his wrist and was out for the rest of the series. But Stars trainer David Surprenant, reached by The Associated Press three hours after the game, dismissed the report.

"He is not out for the series," Surprenant said. "Doctors will be evaluating him (today)."

Stars public relations director Larry Kelly also had a negative response to the ESPN report.

"They didn't get that from us," he told the AP. "It's a sore wrist and day-to-day. That's the report we're going with."

The Stars were also more physical this time, outhitting the Sabres 48-38. In the first game, the Sabres outhit the Stars 60-44.

"They had a few shifts where they really took it to us," Buffalo's Jay McKee said, "so I guess that was the difference."

But Modano suffered the injury on a hard check from McKee.

"I think it was a pretty clean hit," McKee said. "He was going wide on me. I just turned into him. I hit guys along the board all the time."

It was the Stars, actually, who were doing the physical work first. That was the game plan hit first, ask questions later.

"Each game in the series will probably get more physical in the corners and in front of the net," Stars goalie Ed Belfour said. "We kept working and never got discouraged."

The Sabres scored first on a power-play goal by Mike Peca at 7:27 of the second period. The Buffalo captain was wide open at the side of the net when he one-timed a pass from Jason Woolley past Belfour.

The 1-0 lead held up until Jamie Langenbrunner tied the game with just 1:34 left in the period, deflecting a shot from Richard Matvichuk past Dominik Hasek. It was Langenbrunner's playoff-leading 10th goal.

"It was a great play by Matvichuk to get the shot," Langenbrunner said. "I was just there for the tip. When you get one by him, then you know the confidence grows a little bit."

"There are guys attacking at both nets," Dallas center Joe Nieuwendyk said, "but I thought tonight, we did get a little more traffic in front of (Hasek)." Hasek noticed.

"They tried lots of traffic tonight, same thing as the first game. They pushed my teammates into me. It didn't matter. It just pumped me up."

The Stars broke the 1-1 tie on a goal by Craig Ludwig at 4:25 of the third period, his first in 102 playoff games. Their lead lasted just 1:11 as Alexei Zhitnik tied it on a power play.

Then Brett Hull scored the game-winner for Dallas with a sizzling shot from the right circle with 2:50 left, and Kevin Hatcher added an empty-netter in the final minute.

"I just buried my head and shot it hard," Hull said. "The harder you shoot it, you've got more of a chance of it going in."

And now the Stars are going to Buffalo with a better shot at the Stanley Cup.



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