- The Washington Times - Friday, June 2, 2000

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. The Dallas Stars were dreadful in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals Tuesday, losing 7-3 to the New Jersey Devils. A lot of teams would be shaken by their worst loss in more than seventh months, but not the defending champions.

After all, the Stars remember that they lost Game 1 of the 1999 finals to the Buffalo Sabres before capturing the title in six games. That made Dallas just the 13th team to lose the finals opener and win the Cup.

Also, Dallas has gone 26 playoff games without losing two in a row, dating back to Games 4-5 of the 1999 Western Conference finals.

"We have learned to be able to write these things off," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said before Game 2 Thursday night at Continental Airlines Arena. "Sometimes it isn't going to be your night. But this is a little different. If you lose at home, there's pressure, but you feel like you have got a little bit of a cushion. On the road, you have got no cushion. There's pressure when you know you have to win a road game to survive and you start running out of road games."

If the Stars weren't going to have to try to become just the fourth team and the first since 1971 to rally from a 0-2 hole to win the Cup, they would need big performances from their big guns.

Captain Mike Modano and top goal-scorer Brett Hull were held scoreless on five shots Tuesday. That left the dynamic duo with a measly four points in Dallas' six playoff defeats.

In the Stars' 12 victories, Modano and Hull had combined for an awesome 35 points. The Devils have been viselike against opposing top lines, but heading into Game 2, the athletic Modano and the hard-shooting Hull hadn't both been kept off the score sheet in consecutive games this postseason.

"On a lot of our shifts in Game 1, we spent most of our time chasing the puck," said Modano, who led all playoff scorers with 20 points, one more than Hull. "By the time we got it, we were a little too tired to do much with it. It's our line's job to check [Jason] Arnott's line [which produced four goals in Game 1]. There's some pressure on our line to score, too, but we have to think check first. If we think offense before we think defense, then we're in trouble."

Recent history says that the Devils will cruise or lose. Beginning in 1991, the team that won Game 1 of the finals either swept the series or failed to capture the Cup. Pittsburgh (1991), Montreal (1993), the New York Rangers (1994) and Dallas (1999) all lost Game 1 but won the title. Pittsburgh (1992), New Jersey (1995), Colorado (1996) and Detroit (1997 and 1998) each registered sweeps.

Grand Old Man

At 40, Guy Carbonneau is the NHL's oldest player. The Dallas center is so old that his eldest daughter, Anne-Marie, is dating his teammate, Brenden Morrow. Carbonneau tied New Jersey coach Larry Robinson, his former Montreal teammate, by playing in his 227th Stanley Cup playoff game last night. That's just nine shy of Mark Messier's record 236.

Carbonneau, who has won three Selke Trophies as the NHL's top defensive forward, was nominated by the Professional Hockey Writers Association for the Masterton Trophy which is given to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

A champion with Montreal (1986, 1993) and Dallas (1999), Carbonneau can join Vancouver's Messier (six) and Detroit's Larry Murphy and Carolina's Paul Coffey (four each) as the only active players to win four Cups. Carbonneau's Stars teammate Mike Keane and Devils right wing Claude Lemieux (his former Canadiens teammate) have also won three titles.

"You have to be a little lucky to play for good teams, but you also have to bring something to your team," Carbonneau said. "I learned from [Canadiens Hall of Famer and current Stars general manager Bob Gainey]. I would like to think that Mike and Claude learned a little from me. Claude's a great competitor. He likes this time of year, to shine in those special moments."

If Dallas takes the series, Carbonneau will join Murphy, Dick Duff and Hall of Famers Red Kelly, Frank Mahovlich and Bryan Trottier as the only players to win a pair of Cups with two different teams. Lemieux (Montreal, 1986; New Jersey, 1995; Colorado, 1996) and Keane (Montreal, 1993; Colorado, 1996; Dallas, 1999) are the only expansion era (beginning in 1967) players to win the Cup with three teams.

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