Stars hoping to regroup after Game 1 loss vs. Avs

Updated: April 23, 2006, 7:17 PM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett leaned wearily against the wall after practice Sunday, occasionally tapping his skates on the concrete. It had been a long, long 24 hours.

After Dallas opened the Western Conference playoffs with a 5-2 loss to the seventh-seeded Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon, Tippett spent much of the night watching the film.

Tippett likened that to "watching a horror movie." It certainly didn't make him feel any better about his team.

"Frustration," Tippett said, quickly summing up how he felt. "Come out with effort and execution like that in Game 1 is unacceptable. It's not who we are as a team and not who we expect to be. Our expectations are much higher than that."

The Stars were hoping to play again like it was 1999 or 2000, when they won seven-game conference finals series over Colorado.

Instead, this series started more like the Stars' last playoff series in 2004, when the Avalanche eliminated Dallas in five games in the first round.

Plagued by 23 giveaways and seven penalties while lacking intensity -- even after building a 2-0 lead on consecutive shots in the first period of Game 1 -- the Stars fell behind in the series. Game 2 is Monday night before the series shifts to Denver.

So is there reason to panic?

"Not so much panic. Maybe a little more desperation to our game, a little bit more urgency to get things done, have a little bit more jump," said Stars captain Mike Modano, whose only two shots in Game 1 came in the third period.

"All depends on how you bounce back. Do you panic and go in a frenzy over it?" Bill Guerin said. "It's a little bit of a mixture, because you just don't want to ignore it and think that it didn't happen. You have to face reality. ... We've got to get our act together."

The Stars don't want to face an 0-2 deficit. The only time they've come back from that to win a series was 1968 in their first-ever playoff appearance.

While the Stars couldn't seem to do anything right in Game 1, Colorado coach Joel Quenneville couldn't ask for anything more from his team.

"Our preparation and the way we competed was exactly what we were hoping to do," Quenneville said.

Still, there was the unexpected performance by 20-year-old rookie center Wojtek Wolski from Poland. After spending most of the season in the Ontario Hockey League before being added to Colorado's playoff roster last week, Wolski had a goal and two assists in 15 minutes on the ice.

"He was impressive early in the year, but coming in that way in his first playoff game was really something," said Avs captain Joe Sakic, who had two assists.

Wolski began the season with Colorado but played in only nine games before returning to play major junior hockey. He scored 128 points (47 goals, 81 assists) in 56 games for the Brampton Battalion and maintained that scoring pace in his first playoff game with the Avs.

"I liked his presence out there," Quenneville said.

Another Colorado newcomer getting a confidence boost was goalie Jose Theodore, the former league MVP playing only his sixth game since being traded from Montreal to the Avalanche last month and recovering from a broken right heel.

Theodore was 1-3-1 down the stretch, giving up more than three goals a game. He allowed two goals in the first four shots Saturday before stopping the last 14.

"He's really solid. He's a good player, quick and has a good eye," Sakic said. "I'm sure the game gave him a ton of confidence."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press