The man who scored the winning goal for the Dallas Stars' Stanley Cup-clinching victory over the Buffalo Sabres this morning was a physical wreck.

His left knee was disheveled. Both of his groin muscles were torn to shreds.

Yet winger Brett Hull, who missed Game Four and played sparingly in Game Five, managed to remain on the ice through three overtimes to finally end the marathon that was Game Six by putting the puck over a sprawled Dominik Hasek for a 2-1 Stars victory.

"He might be rehabbed enough to be ready for next season," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He has a grade three, full-blown (damaged medial collateral ligament in his left knee). He has a torn groin. And he came back and played.

"He played on one leg and no groins for his last three shifts. I don't know where this team would be if we would have had to play Game Seven."

Hull and his teammates were part of a wild scene on the ice for the presentation of the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe trophy for the playoffs' most valuable player, which was presented to veteran Dallas center Joe Nieuwendyk.

Hull has been one of the more prolific scorers in NHL history, but he never scored a more important goal as the one he had this morning.

He also never won a Stanley Cup until now.

"You can have all the other goals," Hull said. "This is the biggest to me.

"It's unbelievable . . . It's just so emotional. I've dreamt about it, but it's unbelievable. This team's gone through so much together, and there was a lot of pressure on a lot of guys. But we just really kept sticking to our guns."

The Stars never seemed to run out of gas, nor did the Sabres for that matter. But they found something extra in the extra periods.

"I didn't think the game was going to end, to be honest," said Stars captain Derian Hatcher, who was the first player to skate around the ice while holding the Cup over his head before it was passed around among his teammates. "You've got to give it to Buffalo and our guys who just kept going and going."

"I don't think we played that well in the first two periods, but we stuck to it," Hull said. "And (goaltender) Eddie Belfour and Joe Nieuwendyk and (center) Mike Modano played so well for us the whole playoffs. Without them, I don't think this would have been possible.

"I think all three of them could have gotten that Conn Smythe, but Joe's very deserving."

"This is such a magical team," Hitchcock said. "I know people get that way when you win, but this is a team that from Christmas on pushed its own engine. We didn't push it for them.

"I'm so proud of this team and the players and the coaches. I feel like we answered every bell. We went the distance with every team and answered every bell. I don't think I could be prouder of a team."

"I think we deserve it," Stars veteran center Guy Carbonneau said. "I think we worked for two years for that. I think everybody was disappointed last year, and to win it in a fashion like that, everybody deserves a big round of applause. We worked so hard since September. It was hard, but I think it was fun."