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Sabres Central

Dallas makes Sabres see Stars in 4-1 loss
By Rick Anderson
March 5, 2001

Rhett Warrener checks Stars center Mike Modano into the glass during the first period. The Stars went on to beat the Sabres 4-1.
[REUTERS Photo/Jeff Mitchell]

Are the Buffalo Sabres using the excuse that they are road weary? That seems to be the handy excuse for their 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars Sunday afternoon in Dallas.

"This game was a product of the schedule," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "But their schedule has been demanding, too, so it shouldn't be an issue."

Whether or not that is a valid excuse, the Sabres performance seemed to be lacking the element of desperation they had displayed the day before when they upset the Colorado Avalanche with a dramatic overtime goal by Stu Barnes. Against the Stars, the Sabres seemed flat and were not able to generate enough offensive opportunities to get the job done.

Sudden Dallas strike

The Stars struck quick in rapid fashion over halfway through the first period to put the Sabres' backs against the wall. In just over 1 minute, the Stars scored two goals by Jere Lehtinen and Ted Donato to literally put the Sabres out of the game.

Sabres nemesis Brett Hull made a perfect pass to Lehtinen to open the scoring and Donato made the score 2-0 when he poked in a rebound past Dominik Hasek. The Stars didn't wait long to score their third goal in the second stanza when Mike Keane got the third puck past Hasek only 59 seconds into the period.

The Sabres played so bad in the first period of the game that they didn't register a shot on goal until only a minute and a half left in the period. That is not the way to beat the Stars in Reunion Arena. The Sabres got one back when J.P. Dumont beat Eddie Belfour from the left faceoff circle for his 21st goal of the season at the 13:50 mark of the second period. However with just a little over a minute to go in the period, Mike Modano got his 24th goal of the season while the Stars were shorthanded, when he beat Hasek with a backhand shot and that was all the scoring in the contest.

"That goal really sealed it for us," said Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock. "It took everything out of them."

The Sabres and Stars played to a 2-2 tie in the only other game between the two clubs this season in Buffalo. Now the Sabres must win in Boston on Tuesday if they want to have a winning record on this 5-game road trip. The Sabres play their first game in almost two weeks this Friday against Edmonton. Then they have an unusual 5 days off until their next game against the New York Rangers next Wednesday.

Sabres Talk

With the victory, the Stars moved into the Pacific Division lead over San Jose.

"The pride factor is involved now," said Hitchcock. "We've been hanging around this thing all year. Our players are recognizing that there are only five or six weeks left. We know we have to keep competing at a high level."

Ruff was disappointed with Hasek's performance in goal after Martin Biron had stole the game against the Avs the day before.

"The biggest difference was goaltending," said Ruff . "Yesterday it won the game for us. Today it didn't. Belfour made some big saves for them."

Now the big question is whether Ruff will put Biron in the nets for the Sabres last game on this road trip on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins. Both goalies have been inconsistent this season and Ruff wants both to pick that aspect of their game up.

Meanwhile, the Sabres knew that they didn't put forth the effort needed to beat the Stars. "Once you give a team that disciplined, with that much experience, a two-goal lead, they're not going to give up a lot," said James Patrick, Sabres defenseman. "They're an awfully explosive team, with that one line, and we just made some stupid mistakes that cost us," added Rob Ray. "Yesterday when we made the odd mistake, (Biron) covered up or someone else made up for it. But the mistakes we did make today, they capitalized on and that's the total difference."

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