Originally created 06/05/99

Stars bring showdown to Texas



DALLAS -- Mike Keane beat former teammate Patrick Roy twice in the second period as Dallas defeated Colorado 4-1 in a Game 7 showdown Friday night and brought the Stanley Cup finals to Texas for the first time.

The Stars, who moved south from Minnesota six years ago, will open the championship round at home Tuesday night against Eastern Conference champion Buffalo. As the North Stars, they lost their two previous finals appearances.

The Avalanche failed in their bid for a second title in four years after holding a 3-2 series lead going back to Denver. The Game 7 loss was just their second on the road in 10 playoff games. Colorado had eliminated two-time defending Cup champions Detroit in the second round.

With 8:41 left, the towel-waving fans at Reunion Arena started chanting, "We want the Cup!" and in the game's closing minutes they screamed "Ed-die! Ed-die!" for goaltender Ed Belfour.

It was the first start-to-finish blowout in a classic series between the two top-seeded teams in the West. The Stars won their second straight Presidents' Trophy for the best regular-season record in the NHL.

"There are a lot of talented teams in the National Hockey League, and there are probably teams with a higher skill level than our team ... but I have never seen a group that pulls the way this group does," Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They take an awful lot of pride in not cracking."

Dallas controlled the game all 60 minutes by constantly swarming the puck on defense and refusing to allow Colorado's speed advantage to become a factor. The Avalanche had just six shots in the first period and only three in the second.

"We knew we had to get back to our game plan," Stars center Mike Modano said.

The Stars didn't have many scoring chances either, but they capitalized on them by forcing Roy, the all-time winningest playoff goalie, into making four huge mistakes.

Belfour, who has a reputation for making those types of gaffes in big games, played like the classic money goalie.

"He's much maligned and it's really unfair," Dallas' Brett Hull said. "He's come through in big times."

While the Dallas defense didn't make Belfour see many shots, he was in perfect position for 18 of 19 to improve his career record in Game 7s to 3-0. Roy is 2-4 in deciding playoff games.

Jamie Langenbrunner, who beat Roy twice in the third period of Game 6 including the game-winner, did it again midway through the first period with a low line drive to the goalie's left.

Roy had been locked on Joe Nieuwendyk coming up his right side and he couldn't adjust when the pass went to Langenbrunner in the slot. His 10th career playoff goal was his sixth game-winner, and it tied Nieuwendyk for the lead this postseason at nine.

Then, it was Keane's turn to burn the team he helped win the Cup in 1996.

Keane, who was traded to Colorado from Montreal with Roy in December 1995, caught Roy looking to his right at Guy Carbonneau and smacked it to the goalie's left for a 2-0 lead with 8:47 remaining in the second period.

The fiery redhead flat out beat Roy with 4:42 left in the period for the goal-clinching goal.

Keane charged untouched up the left side and went right at the goal, faking left and getting Roy to commit as he pulled the puck back. Falling, Keane slid the puck through the center of the crease and into the net, turning Reunion Arena into a madhouse.

It was sweet revenge for Keane, whom the Avalanche didn't re-sign after the 1997 season. He joined the New York Rangers and, when they were out of the playoff hunt, was traded to Dallas in March 1998.

Keane, who has tattoos of the Cups he won with Montreal in 1993 and Colorado in 1996 on his left ankle, scored four playoff goals last year as the Stars lost the Western Conference finals to Detroit in six games. His two goals Friday night gave him five this postseason.

"I'm not a goal scorer," Keane said. "I just happened to be in the right place."

As for his team:

"We were a little tight, but we fought through it. We were getting offense from four great lines, and that's a good thing."

Roy's biggest blunder of the night allowed Dallas to take a 4-0 lead with 13:42 left. He was stuck behind his net trying to play the puck when it caromed to Jere Lehtinen on the center of the right faceoff circle and he blasted a shot into an open net.

Colorado's lone goal came with 6:02 remaining when Joe Sakic scored on a rebound.

By reaching the finals, Dallas ended a four-year jinx for Presidents' Trophy winners. The Stars hope to have the same results as the 1994 New York Rangers, who won the Cup.

In the Stars' only two Cup finals, Minnesota lost to the New York Islanders in five games in 1981 and in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991.

Although the Stars and Sabres have never met in the postseason, the cities of Dallas and Buffalo are no stranger to a finals matchup. The Cowboys beat the Bills in the Super Bowls following the 1992 and 1993 seasons.