The end of a four-game road trip for the Dallas Stars found them in Denver tonight, taking on the Colorado Avalanche. This is the second of four games between the two teams and the last to be played on the road. Colorado had just returned home from a road trip of their own, where they lost against the St. Louis Blues in overtime just last night.
Dallas doesn’t have the best record when playing in Colorado, but not many teams like the thin mountain air.
The Avalanche are third in the Central Division as of this afternoon, but like the Stars are looking to break a three-game losing skid.
Two teams were iced for the first period, but one one actually showed up to play. Midway through the frame, the Avalanche had 10 shots on goal while the Stars had only one, so it’s not hard to guess which is which.
The first period ended 3-0, which is lucky for the Stars because the Avalanche actually scored five times. Stars video coach Kelly Forbes (and Stars coach Jim Montgomery) successfully challenged two goals in a row for goaltender interference. But that came later.
First, Gabriel Landeskog almost drew first blood, but hit the goal post instead. This was seconds into the game, so it really started off with a bang.
Former Avalanche player Blake Comeau had interference called on him after his skate tipped Tyson Barrie’s as they both went through the neutral zone. What made this especially poetic is that the helpful graphic makers at FSSW put up a graphic about how the Stars have killed 18 penalties in a row in the Pepsi Center, just before Landeskog scored seconds into the power play. This, by the way, was before the Stars ever had one shot on goal.
Then Alexander Radulov, reunited with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin to begin this game, turned the puck over in the defensive zone, which allowed the Avalanche to steal and Matt Calvert to put the puck in the back of the net. Again, the Stars had not taken a shot on goal.
While every single Stars reporter was typing out their tweets for the second goal, the Avalanche scored again. Guess what? The Stars had still not taken a shot on goal. But the Stars called for a goal review for goaltender interference. Greer was clearly in the net, and pushed Taylor Fedun into Anton Khudobin, which pushed him out of the crease entirely. The review was called in favor of the Stars, so the score remained 2-0.
A high sticking penalty was called on AJ Greer, and Jason Dickinson got precisely one shot on goal during the power play. That was it, the only shot.
Dickinson then took a slashing penalty on Nathan MacKinnon, because taking a lot of penalties and gassing themselves in a mile-high city is exactly the way the Stars wanted to lose this game apparently. The Avalanche scored with two seconds left on the power play.
Except Kelly Forbes challenged again, and it was again called in favor of the Stars, in a move that was wildly unpopular in the arena. The score was still 2-0 and the Stars had gotten up to four shots on goal.
And then, to round out the period, Radek Faksa took a interference penalty against MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen scored with 15 seconds left to go in the period. It was not waved.
The shots on goal at the end of the period were 20-9 in favor of the Avalanche.
Score: Dallas 0, Colorado 2
Shots: Dallas 9, Colorado 20
Ben Bishop was in net to begin the second, presumably because Montgomery couldn’t pull the rest of the team and had to settle for the goaltender who made 17 saves on 20 shots in 20 minutes of play. But as everyone knows, pulling the goaltender is only sometimes about the goaltender and is most often a wake-up call for the team playing in front of that netminder.
And honestly? It worked here. Yes, the Stars were still down 4-2 at the end of the period. However, this is following the first, where the Stars had fewer than half the number of shots on goal that the Avalanche did. Any progress is good progress.
Faksa was called for a slashing penalty against JT Compher. Instead of giving up another power play goal to the Avalanche, Mattias Janmark picked off a pass and skated the puck down instead of dumping it. He had Esa Lindell with him for the shorthanded rush on the Avalanche goalie, and Lindell got the puck in the net.
Less than a minute later, Seguin intercepted a pass from Samuel Girard, who’d been trying to swipe the puck behind the net to his defensive partner. Seguin got a shot on net but it was blocked. He followed the puck though, picked up his own rebound, and scored his first in six games.
The Avalanche had a too many men penalty and it wasn’t even on a bad line change, six players in Avalanche blue were rushing up the ice. The Stars broadcast caught it before the referees did, but it was finally called. The Stars had some good puck movement on the power play, but it seemed to take some of the steam out of their attack.
Janmark took an offensive zone slashing penalty against Barrie with five minutes left to go in the period, and Rantanen then scored his second of the night just seconds into the ensuing power play.
The Stars were still down two goals, but some good things happened. They evened up the quality scoring chances, they got closer in shots on goal, and they broke Seguin’s goal drought (finally).
Denis Gurianov keeps making a case for being ready for a full-time job in the NHL. He had an excellent rush where he beat literally everyone, but just couldn’t finish with a goal.
Still, such a good move by the young player, and a good sign of things to come.
The Avalanche lost Compher for a time after Julius Honka checked him against the boards. Compher was slow to get up and went immediately down the tunnel. No penalties were called, which seemed unusual for this game. What does seem usual for this game: Seguin was called for a tripping penalty, which was less tripping and more “trying too hard.” The Stars went on to kill the penalty.
Then the Avalanche were called for a rare penalty on their side after Carl Soderbergh smacked Ben Bishop in the grill with his stick. Tyler Seguin scored his second of the night on the ensuing power play.
Then, Jamie Benn scored his first of the night — his 267th goal in his 700th game — to tie the game with four minutes left in the period. A minute later, Landeskog scored the go-ahead again with a ricocheting slap shot from the point.
Montgomery pulled Bishop with two minutes left, which allowed MacKinnon the opportunity to crush the starry-eyed hopes of the Stars’ comeback. There were still two minutes left in the game, but despite the fact that the Stars had clawed ahead in both shot count and quality scoring chances, they couldn’t recover from the hole they dug themselves into in the first period. They lost, 6-4, against the Avalanche.
The Stars return to Dallas, where they will face the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, December 18. The puck will drop at 7:30 p.m. CDT.