- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2000

DEVILS 7, STARS 3

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Dallas goaltender Ed Belfour brought something less than his "A" game to the opener of the Stanley Cup finals last night and the result was predictable a turkey shoot in the New Jersey swamps.

The New Jersey Devils scored three times in the second period on just nine shots and stormed out to a 7-3 victory in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series, Martin Brodeur picking up the victory in the battle that was anything but a low-scoring defensive affair.

Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora each scored twice and Sergei Brylin added a goal for New Jersey, which is to be expected. But the Devils also got goals from unexpected sources such as defensemen Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens. Dallas got goals from Darryl Sydor, Jon Sim and Kirk Muller, the former Devil. The latter two came within 12 seconds, the only spree Dallas had.

Belfour, hero of the Stars' seven-game marathon against Colorado in the Western finals, was mercifully removed from the game when trailing 6-1 and replaced by Manny Fernandez, who let in the first shot he faced.

Only the first goal Belfour allowed, seven minutes into the game by Arnott, seemed particularly tough. It was a redirection of a Sykora pass right in front of the goalie, virtually impossible for any goalie to stop. Other chances that got through were little more than routine.

None of the goals were more memorable than the one scored by Daneyko, who now has five postseason goals in 126 playoff games. Before last night he hadn't scored in postseason since 1995, the year the Devils won their only Cup.

Daneyko, who has been a Devil for all of his 17 NHL seasons, put New Jersey in front for the second time in the game when he scored his first of this playoff season three minutes into the second. John Madden had won the draw and the puck went to Brylin along the left boards. He got it back to Daneyko at the left point and the defenseman fired away.

It was far from a pretty shot. The puck fluttered as it wobbled in and may have been slightly redirected en route. It struck Belfour on the inside of the right knee, glanced across and off the left knee and into the cage, igniting the crowd, which stood to applaud the veteran of 1,070 games who has just 34 regular-season goals, only two during the past three seasons.

Stevens' goal 16 minutes into the middle period finally brought a smile to the veteran's face. He had been depressed since his clean hit on Philadelphia's Eric Lindros eight minutes into Game 7 of the Eastern finals, a hit which may end the center's career. Stevens' shot would have been an easy stop if Belfour had only put his right pad on the ice. Instead, the puck slipped under it.

The lopsided loss it was 7-1 Devils before Dallas pushed two quick ones in may be the easiest part for the Stars. Derian Hatcher, the team's top defenseman, and stellar rookie Brendan Morrow, were both hurt, although it was not immediately known how badly.

Notes The Stars' Guy Carbonneau played in his 226th postseason game last night, moving into third place on the all-time games-played list. Barring injury, Carbonneau will move into second place on the list before the finals are over; Devils coach Larry Robinson, a former Montreal teammate, is one spot ahead with 227 games. New Jersey's Claude Lemieux is in sixth place at 216… . Scoring in the first period last night extended the Devils' string of consecutive non-shutout playoff games to 32, longest current string… . The teams played twice during the regular season, with Dallas winning both, each by a goal and one in overtime… . Dallas defenseman Shawn Chambers, a former Cap, had knee surgery back in October and is still out indefinitely. The Stars lost 396 man-games during the regular season and are already up to 58 in the postseason.

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