New coach shows faith in DiMaio


DALLAS (AP) -- All Rob DiMaio needed was a little confidence from
his coach. And a chance.

Given both from former linemate-turned-leader Dave Tippett,
DiMaio has responded with strong games throughout this young
season. His best came Sunday when he scored two goals to lead the
Dallas Stars past the Washington Capitals 5-2 on Sunday night.

"I don't think this is a groove -- this is the way I know I can
play,'' said DiMaio, who struggled and was often a healthy scratch
last season, his first in Dallas, as he was never embraced by
previous Stars coach Ken Hitchcock. "If you have a coach that has
faith in you, you're going to do better.''

DiMaio and Tippett played together in Philadelphia in 1993-94
and have been friends ever since. The third member of their Flyers' line was Mark Lamb, now a Dallas assistant.

"Robby plays with a lot of energy,'' Tippett said. "He brings
a passion to every shift. Even if he makes a mistake, you know he's
going to give you every ounce he has. From a coaching standpoint,
that's all you can ask for.''

Dallas was coming off an ugly 5-3 loss in St. Louis in which it
blew a two-goal lead by committing penalty after penalty. This
time, the Stars took advantage of a double minor by Chris Simon to
take a 2-0 lead after just 5:08.

Mike Modano nicely set up the power-play goals by Bill Guerin
and Darryl Sydor. After Jeff Halpern made it 2-1, DiMaio's first
goal stretched the lead and sent Capitals goalie Craig Billington
to the bench just 10:13 into his season debut.

He allowed three goals on eight shots and was replaced by Olaf
Kolzig, who was supposed to be getting his first rest after facing
138 shots in four games.

"Your starting goalie has to give you a chance to win the game
and he didn't,'' Washington coach Bruce Cassidy said. "When we
needed a big save, we didn't get it, so I went to Olie. I didn't
want to go to Olie -- believe me, I didn't want to go to Olie.''

Jaromir Jagr made it a one-goal game late in the second period,
and DiMaio answered again early in the third. It was just the third
two-goal game in his 15 seasons, and first since December 1996,
which also came against Washington.

DiMaio didn't remember the details of that game, only that he
was with Boston. Teammates recognized he was on the verge of his
first career hat trick and wanted him to score again -- alas, DiMaio
wasn't on the ice when Jere Lehtinen popped in an empty-net goal
with 17 seconds left.

The Stars, who took just five penalties after getting 14 the
previous night, ended a two-game losing skid. They also improved to
3-0 at home and upped their streak of games with a power-play goal
to six straight, marking big improvements in two key areas Tippett
has emphasized.

The Capitals lost their second straight since a 3-0 start. They,
too, were coming off a bad loss, having fallen 3-1 to Philadelphia
on Saturday when they gave up three goals in the final 24:30.
Combined with the early struggles against Dallas, Washington
allowed six goals in 34:43.

Dallas' Ron Tugnutt made 26 saves to improve to 2-0 this season.
He was at his best late in the first period when he stopped
consecutive point-blank shots by Andreas Salomonsson, then minutes
later turned away Jagr after he stickhandled his way through the
Dallas defense.

Kolzig stopped 21 of 22 shots.

Game notes
Dallas improved to 9-1-1-1 against Washington, dating to
the 1996-97 season. ... Stars center Kirk Muller became the 30th
player to appear in 1,300 games. ... Billington stopped 23 of 25
shots in a victory over Dallas last season. ... Points streaks:
Dallas' Ulf Dahlen upped his to six, Washington's Peter Bondra
ended his at four. ... Five-time Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair
and former Stars general manager Bob Gainey shared a ceremonial
faceoff. The duo are co-chairs of a golf tournament Monday
benefiting the Dallas Stars Foundation and the American Brain Tumor