The Stars are coming off a series of poor performances in the week before Christmas, two weeks after losing head coach Jim Montgomery and the elevation of assistance coach Rick Bowness. The Stars lost three of four before the holiday break and the one they won they should have lost based on performance.
The Avalanche lost three of five games before a three day break, scoring 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday, but that’s still good enough to hold on to second in the West (and in the Central Division).
Both teams are well rested and both need the win, especially for those crucial in-division points.
There isn’t normally a lot to say about the first five minutes of play except tonight, when John Klingberg took a hit from Nikita Zadorov (who recently beaned him in the neck with a puck) but Alexander Radulov, who just returned from a two game absence due to a lower body injury, was able to pick up the loose puck. Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer bit hard on Radulov, which would normally be a sensible thing to do, but Radulov dropped the puck back to Tyler Seguin, who had a wide open net on Grubauer’s stick side.
The Stars had a strong first period and controlled much of the flow of play. Momentum began to swing toward the Avalanche after Radulov was called for tripping Valeri Nichushkin (who, by the way, has seven goals this season). Either the Stars got sloppy or over confident or both in the final minutes of the period, but there was no excuse for the goal that came with one minute left to go.
The Stars gave away the puck in the neutral zone, Matt Nieto picked it off and took it back into the Stars zone. Tyson Jost took a shot with it, literally no Stars players covered the rebound or really played defense at all, and J.T. Compher got the puck around Ben Bishop.
A puck gets in on Bishop and ends up right in front of the Stars netminder. J.T. Compher is there to clean it up and tie the game with just over a minute left in the first.— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) December 29, 2019
DAL 1 - 1 COL | #DALvsCOL pic.twitter.com/4I00KY4WC8
Not the best end to a period. The Stars made a push to score and get the go ahead goal again before the first intermission, but they were unable to make anything of the last minute.
The second period was a tragedy for the Stars with few positives to draw from, so here we go.
Andre Burakovsky was called for holding on Esa Lindell. Most of the pressure for the Stars in the GameFlow (a new feature on the NHL app!) came in the first five minutes and almost entirely on that power play. The Stars had some good chances but were not able to score.
On a slow change by Tyler Seguin, Ian Cole was given time and space to score five hole on Bishop. This wasn’t Seguin’s fault, but a slow change meant not as many bodies on the ice, although it may not have mattered.
Either way, the Avalanche got the go ahead.
This next bit gets a little convoluted. Corey Perry was called for interference against Joonas Donskoi, who wins for most awesome name tonight. Then Blake Comeau was almost 30 seconds later for tripping against Mikko Rantanen, giving the Avalanche 92 seconds of 5 on 3 power play.
Joe Pavelski drew a penalty against Gabriel Landeskog, with a few seconds left on the 5 on 3, and then 4 on 4 for 20 seconds, and then a bit of a power play.
Either way, no one scored anything.
The Avalanche were called in the dying seconds of the period for a delay of game penalty, which is when things really started looking up for the Stars.
With almost an entire two minutes to go on the power play, the Stars began the third period with a lot more energy than they displayed at almost any time during the second.
And they finally scored on the power play, thanks to Denis Gurianov.
D- Demonstrate openness— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) December 29, 2019
E- Engage one-timer
N- Neglect goalie
I- Inspire Hope
The Avalanche got a mind bending second delay of game penalty, but the Stars were not able to make anything of that.
The entire period was a lot more even than either of the preceding periods. The shots on goal were more evenly distributed, though the Avalanche did a lot better job at keeping the Stars out of the high danger area in front of the net. Either way, the end of the period was really anyone’s game.
OT. Let's get weird.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) December 29, 2019
Stars coach Rick Bowness chose to start overtime with Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau, which went about as well as one would expect. Exciting times began when Nathan MacKinnon was called for tripping John Klingberg.
Razor’s description of the top overtime players...— Trevor (@Tsudbury) December 29, 2019
“Radulov taking shot after shot on grubauer,”
“Seguin pounding bombs from the top corner,”
“Jamie Benn... doing his thing.”
The Stars had a multitude of really close chances after that but were unable to score during overtime, heading the game to the dreaded shootout.
Both Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon missed their shots. With Pavelski and Radulov both finding the back of the net behind Grubauer, Stars win in the shootout, a very rare occurrence.
The Stars have just one more game in 2019 ahead of Wednesday’s Winter Classic. They’ll be in Arizona tomorrow, 12/29. Puck drop at 7 PM CT.