Stars Give Valiant Effort
DALLAS (AP) _ When the disappointment of not winning their second straight Stanley Cup fades, the Dallas Stars will take pride in knowing they went down fighting.
Dallas’ title defense ended at 8:20 of a second overtime Saturday night when Jason Arnott flipped the puck over goaltender Ed Belfour, giving the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 victory and the championship.
Fans were proud of their team’s comeback from a 3-1 deficit. The Stars won Game 5 1-0 in three overtimes, then pushed this game well beyond regulation before giving up their fight.
Immediately after Belfour allowed just his second goal in 208 minutes, 33 seconds, the Reunion Arena crowd serenaded him with their ritual chant, ``Ed-die! Ed-die!″
Then, as the Devils were about to receive the Cup, the crowd erupted again with a cheer of ``Thank you, Stars.″
Dallas ended the series with three straight losses at home. The Stars had won 11 of their previous 12 home playoff games before this series.
Seeing the Cup passed around on the Reunion ice wasn’t easy for Dallas, which won on the road last year. Defenseman Richard Matvichuk was among the players who had tears in his eyes as he walked off the ice. Coach Ken Hitchcock remained behind the bench, stunned and saddened.
The Stars were hoping a second straight title would prove them to be more than one-year wonders. Instead, they became the first defending champs to lose in the finals since the 1984 New York Islanders ended their four-year run as champs.
Dallas also became the first team to force consecutive overtimes while facing elimination.
``Our last two home games we had here were real tough,″ said Mike Modano, who played an extraordinary amount of minutes to try juicing up the Dallas offense. ``We fought back. It’s a great thing we accomplished here the last three years.″
Belfour suffered a cold medicine-induced meltdown in Game 1, a 7-3 shelling in New Jersey, and he gave up three goals in a span of 3:41 in Game 4. He stopped 100 of the final 102 shots.
In the second period, he allowed a shorthanded goal to Scott Niedermayer, but the Devils’ lead only lasted 69 seconds as Mike Keane tied the game with a hard shot over the glove of New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur.
Dallas failed on four power plays in the game, including one caused by Arnott with 1:17 left in the first overtime.
Joe Nieuwendyk had two good scoring chances in the first overtime, but one went wide left and another was blocked before it got to Brodeur. The Stars technically had just two shots in the overtimes, but there were more scoring chances.
Both teams lost key players to first-period injuries.
Dallas defenseman Darryl Sydor went down first with a leg injury that kept him from standing up; instead, he kept after the play by crawling across the ice. He was helped off and didn’t return.
New Jersey forward Petr Sykora had to be taken a hospital after taking a blow to the head from Stars captain Derian Hatcher. Play was halted for several minutes as he was carefully placed on a stretcher.
Although a CT scan showed he was OK, he spent the night at Baylor University Medical Center for observation.