Stars Force Game 7|
By Ray Van Horn, Jr. Copyright 1999
Looking at immediate elimination from the Western Conference finals, the Dallas Stars, through a pair of Jamie Langenbrunner goals, dumped the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 to extend the series to a seventh game.
The opening period was a feeling out session between the two wary teams, each mindful of the repercussions surrounding the outcome of this game. Brisk skating and constant zone penetration by Colorado ultimately gave way to aggressive hitting within the waning minutes of the first period.
Not soon after the braggadocio by Patrick Roy, who taunted the Stars' sharpshooters by showing them the saved puck within his glove, the Avalanche followed up with a last minute strike at 19:25 from Claude Lemieux, who knocked down an Adam Foote slapper past an otherwise alert Ed Belfour to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead. It was Lemieux's 76th career playoff goal, while Peter Forsberg notched his NHL best 24th point in this year's playoffs by initiating the play after being crunched into the boards.
The Stars were quick to answer, however, humbling Patrick Roy at 1:56 into the second period. Jere Lehtinen nicked a wrist shot shot off of the rebound from Sergei Zubov's launcher, evening the game at 1-1.
The Avs took the initiative as they stepped up their play by mounting numerous attacks on Ed Belfour. However, Belfour was quickly in the zone, holding Colorado scoreless for the duration of the game. As he asserted himself, so did the Dallas defense, taking cue by cleaning house through hard checks on the Colorado linesmen.
For their efforts, the Stars were rewarded with three goals in the third period. They snatched the lead at 6:49 on Jamie Langenbrunner's first goal of the game, a tapper past a splashed Patrick Roy. Joe Nieuwendyk and Dave Reid each picked up assists.
Langenbrunner and Reid would team up again at 17:14 on a power play combination that was initiated from a Claude Lemieux elbow to Ed Belfour's mask.
Richard Matvichuk iced the win for Dallas 15 seconds later from his slapshot directly off of the faceoff, sealing the game at 4-1.
Belfour, who "came up big," according to Jamie Langenbrunner, made 26 saves in the Stars' victory, while Patrick Roy stopped 36 of Dallas' 40 shots. The Avalanche fell to 3-6 at home in the playoffs while the Stars improved to 5-3 on the road.
According to Langenbrunner, "It's nice to score in a big game like this, but it was a great team effort." As the series moves to Dallas for a sudden death Game 7, he also noted, "It should be a loud building and a lot of fun."
Copyright©1999 The HockeyNut