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McKay leads Stars; Arnott arrives

3/20/2002

DALLAS (AP) -- Of the four players swapped by the Dallas Stars
and New Jersey Devils, Randy McKay had the least impressive
offensive statistics.

So, naturally, he was the first to come through with a big
offensive play.

McKay had two assists in his Dallas debut Wednesday night,
including a nifty one-handed flick while his other arm was locked
up by a defender that Kirk Muller turned into the game-winner in a
3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues.

"It just felt good to contribute," said McKay, who arrived in
Dallas a few hours before the game one day after being traded with
Jason Arnott for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner. "It
boosts your confidence. You don't want to lose your first game with
your new team.

"My ice time had diminished in New Jersey, so it's nice to at
least play and do something."

Arnott didn't play because of a bad back that's bothered him for
more than a week. The Stars also were without Jere Lehtinen (ankle)
and Pierre Turgeon (back), leaving them down three of their most
skilled players in a game Dallas badly needed for playoff
positioning.

"It's right there as far as big wins for us this year," Stars
captain Derian Hatcher said. "After yesterday, and considering the
guys we had out, it was a great performance."

The victory gives Dallas 78 points, tying Phoenix for seventh
place and getting within one of St. Louis in the heated battle for
the final spots in the Western Conference playoff chase, which also
includes Vancouver and Edmonton.

"It was a frustrating game," Blues star Keith Tkachuk said.
"It was the biggest game of the year and we didn't win."

McKay came to the Stars with just seven assists and six goals in
55 games with the Devils this season. So when he helped set up a
second-period goal by Richard Matvichuk that tied the game at 2, it
was an unexpected treat for Dallas.

Then, with 17:03 left in the third period, McKay fought off Jeff
Finley and nudged the puck to Muller, who was wide open. He knocked
the puck past goalie Brent Johnson for his eight goal of the
season.

"It popped right out in front and it was a good play on his
part," said Johnson, who stopped 20 shots.

The Stars acquired McKay and Arnott in hopes they can provide
some grit in front of the net. The game-winning play by McKay
quickly lived up to that.

"The thing Randy brings is size," said Hatcher, who used his
own bulk to block four shots and dish out 13 hits. "His size made
that play and he made a great pass."

The Blues, who were seeking the 1,200th victory in the
franchise's 35-year history, went on a power play with 2:37 left
but failed to score despite several good looks, including one from
just outside the crease by Chris Pronger. Pavol Demitra started
raising his arms in celebration after one shot, then wrapped them
around his head when it went wide.

Dallas' Ed Belfour, relieved to make it past the trade deadline
without being shipped out, made 23 saves to end an 11-game winless
streak (0-8-3) against St. Louis, counting a four-game sweep in
last season's playoffs.

The Stars ended a two-game losing streak at home and remained
unbeaten in their last five.

After a scoreless first period, both teams scored twice in the
second.

Sergei Zubov got it started for Dallas with a slap shot off a
feed from Modano on a 5-on-3 power play. St. Louis took a 2-1 lead
on a 50-footer by Alexander Khavanov and a shot by Ray Ferraro that
ricocheted in off Belfour's leg.

Ferraro's goal was his second in as many games since being
acquired from Atlanta.

Blues defenseman Al MacInnis was frustrated by all the penalties
-- 18, including 10 in the second period. Dallas was 1-of-7 on the
power play and St. Louis went 1-of-5.

"Referees have to realize that for a lot of the teams it's
playoff hockey right now," he said. "They should just let them
play and put their whistles away a little more."

Game notes
This was the first game Lehtinen has missed since
reinjuring his ankle. He's listed as day-to-day. Wilson said he
hopes to have Lehtinen, Arnott and Turgeon for the next game,
Friday night. ... The Stars had played three straight overtime
games. A fourth in a row would've been a franchise first since the
five-minute extra period was added in 1983. ... St. Louis sent F
Eric Boguniecki to Worcester of the AHL. ... Dallas is 15-1-3 the
last 19 times it has scored first. ... Arnott was given
Nieuwendyk's old number, 25.