Stanley Cup Notebook
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ The Buffalo Sabres finally lost their home-ice magic with the 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday night.
The Sabres had been 7-0 in the playoffs at the Marine Midland Arena, one short of the club record set by the 1975 team.
Buffalo’s last playoff loss at home came in last year’s conference finals against the Washington Capitals.
HIGH TIMES: Joe Nieuwendyk’s two goals for Dallas marked his third multi-goal game of the playoffs and gave him an NHL-high 11 for the postseason. He passed teammate Jamie Langenbrunner, who has 10.
It was also a career high in playoff goals for Nieuwendyk, who scored 10 for Calgary in 1989.
DEVASTATING DEFENSE: In holding the Sabres to 12 shots Saturday night, the Stars broke a club playoff record. The Stars established that record this year when they held Ottawa to 15 shots in their first game of the playoffs.
SCOREBOARD-WATCHING: The fans really came out for Saturday night’s Stanley Cup finals game _ and not only at the Marine Midland Arena.
With a sellout crowd of 18,595 at the Sabres’ arena, a crowd of some 15,000 showed up at Dunn Tire Park just up the street to watch the game on a 20-by-40-foot video screen. The stadium is the home of the Buffalo Bisons of the International League.
IGNITING THE CROWD: Dallas Stars rookie Jon Sim had the crowd all over him _ and the game hadn’t even started yet.
As the Stars finished their pregame warmup on Saturday night, Sim was the last player coming off the ice when he committed a no-no: He shot the puck into the Sabres’ net.
The crowd booed, naturally.
Such actions in the past have sparked all-out brawls between NHL teams before games. Fortunately for Sim, no one else was on the ice.
DOUBLE DUTY: Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals in Buffalo had at least one thing that Games 1 and 2 didn’t have in Dallas _ the Canadian national anthem.
Ingrid Smolinska, the fiance of Sabres forward Miroslav Satan, sang both the Canadian and American anthems before Saturday night’s game.
``O, Canada″ is sung regularly at Sabres games because a significant percentage of season ticket-holders are from Canada.
OFFICIALLY SPEAKING: Terry Gregson and Don Koharski were the referees and Ray Scapinello and Jay Sharrers were the linesmen for Saturday night’s game.
SEEING COLORS: The Marine Midland Arena was a sea of red, white and blue Saturday night. No, it had nothing at all to do with the American flag.
The fans all received red T-Shirts as they came through the turnstiles. The white came from the pom-poms left for them on the blue seats.
STICKY SITUATION: Dominik Hasek has really been sticking it to the Dallas Stars. Ask coach Ken Hitchcock, who is really angry over the way the Buffalo Sabres goaltender drops his stick on the ice during play around his net.
``I have a real problem with that because he uses it perfectly as a stopper,″ Hitchcock said. ``It’s bothered a lot of coaches in the league because we don’t allow hockey players to play like that, so why should the goaltender play like that?
``Not only does the stick get dropped but it gets strategically placed. I don’t like it if there’s a double set of standards for people. That goal stick, to me if it goes outside that blue area, we should just shoot it into the stands.″
THE INJURY FACTOR: Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was talking about how injuries are so much a part of hockey. That goes double late in the season when your team is in the Stanley Cup finals.
``I think if you actually had the count of injuries, the number would be unbelievable,″ Ruff said, then without skipping a beat added, ``... although our team is completely healthy right now.″
That got a chuckle from the press, which is well aware of how hockey teams tend to hide the kind of injuries they have as a tactical advantage.
NOT SO HANDY: Mike Modano’s wrist injury might affect his game somewhat, but he will be no worse than any of the other Dallas Stars, according to coach Ken Hitchcock.
``The players put it best,″ Hitchcock said. ``It’s about time he feels like the rest of them _ average hands.″
SMALL MARKET SALVO: With the Buffalo Sabres in the finals, coach Lindy Ruff thinks they have struck a blow for small-market teams in the NHL.
``It bodes well,″ Ruff said. ``Parity is at a premium. The gap between the superstars and the really good players is not that big.
``If you have some good players in the system, you can build a good team. Spend your money on a few good players _ our goalie (Dominik Hasek) is certainly worth it _ and build around him.″
HEATING UP: The finals figure to become rougher as they go on, particularly if the Dallas Stars continue to target Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek.
Says Buffalo’s Jay McKee: ``There’s an unwritten rule that you wouldn’t intentionally run another team’s goalie, but we’re going to drive to the net hard. If we feel they’re intentionally running over Dominik, then we’ll just drive to the net harder and try to keep it fair.
``But if we get hauled down, then I guess we’ll just end up going through (Stars goalie Ed) Belfour.″