Originally created 01/10/01

Stars lift Belfour's suspension



DALLAS -- Goaltender Ed Belfour was welcomed back to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, his suspension lifted after a morning meeting with team officials.

Belfour met with coach Ken Hitchcock, general manager Bob Gainey and assistant GM Doug Armstrong in Atlanta, where the Stars play the Thrashers on Wednesday night.

Details of the meeting were not immediately disclosed. It also was not known whether Belfour would be in goal or if backup Marty Turco would get a third straight start.

Hitchcock's decision to use Turco on Saturday in Boston triggered a blowup in which Belfour refused to practice, then left the team and flew back to Dallas.

He was suspended indefinitely on Sunday, then on Monday night flew to Atlanta.

In Belfour's absence, the 25-year-old Turco made 33 saves in Saturday's 4-0 victory over Boston and followed that Monday night with a 37-save effort in a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers.

Turco allowed only a third-period goal, to New York's Eric Lacroix, in his 11th NHL game.

"He's taking advantage of it," Hitchcock said of Turco's opportunity. "The last four he's played well, and it's good to see. We miss Eddie, but we needed to have a performance by Marty to keep us solid and strong in these areas and keep us winning, and he did that."

In his last five games, Turco stopped 130 of 133 shots. He denied 64 consecutive before Lacroix ruined the chance at consecutive shutouts with his second goal of the season 5:39 into the third.

"The way this team plays is the way it needs to play to win," Turco said. "It was a road game and we needed to play well defensively, and guys came back and really worked hard to clear my rebounds."

The Rangers, who dominated play throughout, pressed to tie throughout the second half of the third period, but couldn't solve Turco again. New York went 0-for-4 on the power play, including a chance in the final four minutes, and has only one man-advantage goal in the last 42 opportunities.

New York, the 11th place team in the 15-team Eastern Conference is winless in eight games (0-6-1-1) and has one victory in 13 (1-9-2-1).

"Once you get into a slide, everything goes against you," Rangers captain Mark Messier said. "We're in that predicament right now and we're responsible for getting ourselves into it. The same guys are responsible for getting ourselves out of it."

Turco made three quality saves after the Rangers closed to 2-1. He made a sliding stop to turn away with his arm Jan Hlavac's shot. Two minutes later, with the action rushing from end to end, he used his pads to frustrate Michal Grosek.

Jere Lehtinen gave Dallas a 1-0 lead 3:30 into the second, beating Rangers goalie Mike Richter with a back-hander. Shaun Van Allen made it 2-0 by stealing a pass from Messier with New York on a power play.

Van Allen got the puck to Mike Keane, who assisted on both Dallas goals, took a return pass and slapped a shot in.

"I think we hunker down as a group," Hitchcock said. "This is a very emotional, difficult time for us. Now we have to keep building from here, but I like the way our team came together. We've shown real signs of the way we battle for each other."

Notes:

The Rangers tied a season-high with 17 shots in the second period. ... Richter, who made 16 saves, broke the Rangers record for games played by a goalie with 583. ... Dallas D Sergei Zubov was out with a sore shoulder, but is expected to return Wednesday at Atlanta.