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NEW STARS IN DALLAS BEAT WINGS TO ADD TO PERFECT START

Move over Cowboys and Rangers. There are some new Stars in Dallas.

The Dallas Stars have won their first six games of the season, the best start in the 30-year history of an NHL franchise that moved from Minnesota to Texas in 1993.

"We wanted to prove to ourselves and everyone else in the league that we're a good team," right wing Pat Verbeek said Tuesday night after the Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings, 3-1. "The early part of the season is a proving ground because we're playing so many of the top teams."

Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov scored goals during a 17-second span in the second period as the Stars snapped an 11-game winless streak against the Red Wings and remained the only unbeaten, untied team in the NHL this season.

"Detroit is a team we've had problems with the last few years," Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. "But this season we're doing a better job of neutralizing teams with speed and quickness, like Detroit."

The Stars were 2-15-5 last season against the six teams they've beaten this season. Included in that group are the last three Stanley Cup champions -- the Colorado Avalanche, the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers.

Dallas needs four more wins to match the NHL's best start, 10-0-0 by Toronto in 1993.

"We can't change what we're doing defensively and we can't fall in love with ourselves," Hitchcock said.

Devils derail Habs

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Seeing friends, old teammates and a Stanley Cup banner hanging from the rafters, Stephane Richer had a wonderful time returning to New Jersey for his first game since being traded to the Montreal Canadiens.

Then the New Jersey Devils and Martin Brodeur went and spoiled it.

Valeri Zelepukin had a goal and two assists, and Brodeur and the Devils defense shut down one of the NHL's top offenses in beating Montreal, 3-2. It was the first loss of the year for the Canadiens (2-1-2).

"Martin played really well," said Richer, who failed to get a shot at his former teammate. "When Martin is really hot, it's tough to beat him. He's a great goaltender and tonight he was unbelievable."

Brodeur, whose father is the team photographer for the Canadiens, had a little extra incentive with Richer's return and Montreal's impressive start.

The Canadiens came into the game averaging five goals and 37.3 shots, but the Devils limited Montreal to 30 shots, including 16 in the third period. Brodeur made about 10 good saves.

Brodeur was sailing along with a 3-0 lead until Saku Koivu and Vincent Damphousse scored in a 16-second span with about eight minutes to play.

Koivu's power-play goal actually deflected past Brodeur off the skate of Devils defenseman Scott Stevens. Damphousse, who was stopped three times in close in the first period, got his third goal of the season on a slap shot from the left faceoff circle.

Stephane Quintal and Patrice Brisebois had good shots from the point in the closing minutes, but Brodeur stopped them.

"Whenever I play Montreal, all my boys back home are watching, so if I don't want to get too many bad calls the next day I have to play well," Brodeur said.

Sergei Brylin, whose playing time will increase with the Devils' decision to waive Neal Broten earlier in the day, and Bill Guerin also scored as New Jersey snapped a two-game losing streak.

Broten is the last member of the United States' 1980 Miracle On Ice team still active.

News all good for Blackhawks

TORONTO -- The Chicago Blackhawks picked up a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs and have closed in on a contract with holdout center Alexei Zhamnov.

Zhamnov, a restricted free agent acquired in an Aug. 16 trade that sent Jeremy Roenick to Phoenix, has agreed to a five-year, $15 million deal, newspapers reported today. Zhamnov had been seeking $4.5 million a year.

"I'm under the impression the kid has accepted the salary part of it and will be in this weekend," Blackhawks general manager Bob Pulford told the Chicago Tribune.

Roenick held out, too, before finally agreeing to a five-year, $20 million contract Sunday with the Coyotes. Pulford said that had no effect on Zhamnov's deal.

Zhamnov, 26, made $970,000 last season when he scored 22 goals and notched 37 assists in 58 games for the Winnipeg Jets. He has 267 points in 235 NHL games.

In the game, Kevin Miller scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and Ed Belfour made 39 saves. James Black checked the puck from Matt Martin at Toronto's blue line and sent Miller away.

Around the rinks

Eric Lacroix got his first career hat trick, Joe Sakic had a career-high six points and the Avalanche scored on six of its first 14 shots to beat the Oilers, 7-2. The Avalanche was without winger Claude Lemieux, who likely will miss another week with a groin injury suffered in the second game of the season. . . . Kevin Stevens, Jaroslav Modry and Brent Grieve scored in the second period to lead the Kings past the Flyers, 3-2. The Flyers again were missing team captain Eric Lindros, who has missed the first six games with a pulled right groin. Lindros accompanied the team to Los Angeles and has been cleared to resume skating later this week. He may return to the lineup as early as this weekend.

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