Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Stars solve Giguere, Ducks with 2-1 win

Stanley Cup playoffs

The Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Dallas Stars finally figured out a way to beat the Mighty Ducks - win ugly.

Jere Lehtinen scored both Dallas goals, and Marty Turco stopped 31 shots Monday night as the Stars defeated Anaheim 2-1 in their Western Conference semifinal series.

"We did not play nearly as good as the first games," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said following the Stars' first victory after losses in the opening two games. "It's funny how this game goes sometime. That's exactly what we needed - an ugly win.

"On the positive side, we got ourselves back in the series and can get some momentum from the win."

The Ducks lost for the first time in this postseason. They swept the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in the opening series before winning the first two against Dallas.

"Give them full marks," Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said of the Stars. "We have a series now."

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Anaheim, with the fifth game in Dallas on Saturday.

Lehtinen, who beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere on a rebound in the opening minutes of the game, snapped a 1-1 tie when he deflected a shot by Derian Hatcher past the Mighty Ducks goaltender on a power play at 3:41 of the second period.

Hatcher fired a slap shot from the right point, and Lehtinen, stationed just outside the crease, was credited with the goal when the puck caromed off his shin pad and slid between the goalie's legs.

The goal was the third of the playoffs and 20th of his career for Lehtinen, who twice received the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward. He scored a career-high 31 goals for the Stars during the regular season.

Tippett said Lehtinen is a coach's dream.

"I think he's one of the top 10 forwards in the world," the coach said. "He has the ability to score, and he's probably the top defensive forward in the league."

Lehtinen said, "I was fortunate to get the two goals, but it was most important to get the win."

Then there was Turco, who withstood a late assault by the Ducks and made a variety of fine saves - including swatting one shot away backhand with his stick, then immediately batting away a shot from the other side off the rebound during the third period.

"Turco was very good. To win in the playoffs, you need your goalie to be very good and that's exactly what happened tonight," Tippett said.

Giguere made 30 saves and had no real chance to stop the two shots that got past him.

"Both goalies were really solid," Babcock said. "We had some great opportunities to tie the score and Turco made some great saves. They had some great opportunities to take a 3-1 lead, but Giguere made some great saves."

Anaheim won the series opener 4-3 early in the fifth overtime, the fourth longest game in NHL history. The Ducks won Game 2 early in the first overtime, taking a 3-2 victory.

In the first round, Anaheim won twice in overtime.

After Lehtinen scored 2:24 in to give Dallas a quick lead, Steve Rucchin tied it on a power play at 16:09.

Rucchin, alone near the goal line on the right side, took a pass from Paul Kariya, skated in on Turco and shot from five feet. The puck slid across the crease, struck Richard Matvichuk's skate and deflected into the net behind Turco.

The goal, Rucchin's third, was only Anaheim's second power-play goal in 25 opportunities in the postseason.

Niko Kapanen began the sequence that led to the Stars' first goal, taking a slap shot from the top of the right circle. Giguere moved to his left and blocked the shot with his left skate, but the puck bounced out to Rob DiMaio. DiMaio wristed a shot right back, but Giguere managed to extend his right leg and stop it with his skate.

Again, the puck bounced out in front of the crease and Lehtinen quickly knocked it into the net before Giguere could get back into position.

The Stars, the top seed in the West, beat No. 8 Edmonton in six games in the opening round of the playoffs.

The seventh-seeded Ducks are in the postseason for the third time since coming into the league in 1993. Anaheim was swept by the Red Wings in the second round in 1997 and first round in 1999, then turned the tables this year.

Lightning 4, Devils 3

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Lightning blew a big lead, though not an opportunity to climb back into their playoff series with the New Jersey Devils.

The Lightning squandered a three-goal advantage Monday night, but Dave Andreychuk snapped a third-period tie and lifted Tampa Bay to a 4-3 victory over the Devils in Game 3 of the second-round matchup.

Playing with the same sense of urgency that helped them overcome a two-game deficit in the first round, the Lightning now trail the Devils 2-1 as they try to rally in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

"You don't want to script it that way, but you find a way to get it done," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said.

"It's another lesson, something we battled through. ... To come back in the third period, keep our patience and find a way, it's something you can draw on when you get in those situations again," he added.

Andreychuk scored the game-winner with 13:52 remaining, taking advantage of the Devils being unable to complete a line change that left New Jersey with four forwards and just one defenseman in front of goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Devils coach Pat Burns screamed at the officials and pounded on the boards in front of his bench when defenseman Colin White was ordered off the ice.

"After all these years in the league, am I that stupid that I would put four forwards and one defenseman in a 3-3 tie in the third period? I think everybody who knows me here knows I'm not that stupid," Burns said.

"I might be halfway stupid, but not that stupid. It was the wrong call. ... We played hard and fought back. If we lose the game because they scored a couple of good goals, and they outplayed us, fine. But I just feel bad about losing the game like that."

Nikolai Khabibulin rebounded from a shaky second period to make two key saves in the final two minutes with New Jersey desperately trying to take advantage of a power play.

"It was a do-or-die game for them, and obviously we didn't have that approach," New Jersey's Jeff Friesen said.

The Devils won the first two games of the series at home, but the victory bolstered the Lightning's confidence that they can again rally to prolong their first playoff appearance in seven years.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Tampa. The series returns to New Jersey for Game 5 on Friday night.

"We're still down 1-2. We've got a game in our building," Andreychuk said. "The pressure is on to win."

New Jersey played most of the game without captain Scott Stevens, who left early in the first period after a shot by Tampa Bay's Pavel Kubina hit him in the left ear, opening a cut that required stitches.

"I think losing Scotty definitely hurt us," Burns said. "I think morale-wise it hurt us a little bit to see the gladiator that he is come off the ice the way he did. I think that really shook the bench up a little bit."

Vinny Prospal, Martin St. Louis and Fredrik Modin scored first-period goals for Tampa Bay, which won four straight to eliminate Washington after losing the first two games at home in the first round.

Prospal scored when his shot deflected into the net off the stick of White just over four minutes in. Five minutes later, St. Louis added his seventh goal of the playoffs for a 2-0 lead.

When Modin scored from the right circle to make it 3-0, it looked bleak for the Devils, who rallied from one-goal deficits twice before winning Game 2 in overtime. But Brodeur dug in the rest of the way, and New Jersey launched an impressive comeback.

John Madden and Grant Marshall scored less than a minute apart in the second period to trim Tampa Bay's lead to 3-2. Friesen's shot from the left circle, which officials determined was a goal after a video replay, made it 3-3 late in the period.

Andreychuk broke the tie from in front of the net, just moments after Madden nearly beat Khabibulin with a shot that caromed off the right post.

The goal came after the Devils were unable to get the proper personnel on the ice before a faceoff in the Tampa Bay zone. New Jersey won the faceoff and Madden's shot hit the post before the Lightning moved up ice and scored.

Dave Newell, NHL supervisor of officials for the series, said the Devils were slow in getting White onto the ice.

"We can't make exceptions that you only have one defenseman out there," Newell said. "You've had your time to change and these are the five players that are on the ice, and these are the five players that have to play."

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