Welcome to Round Two, Dallas Stars fans!
The Colorado Avalanche were heavy favorites going into this game tonight, but apparently no one told the Dallas Stars. Every model from the fancy stats community has the Avalanche winning the series. Of course, that may still happen, but if it does, it absolutely won’t be a sweep.
Maybe the playoffs should always be played in a bubble?
This first period was really all about the top line, who finally decided to show up to this year’s playoffs. Early in the first period, Jamie Benn gave Tyler Seguin his first goal of the playoffs. Benn took possession of the puck behind the Avalanche net and gave a centering pass to Seguin, who had no one in between him and Philipp Grubauer. Seguin flipped the puck over Grubauer’s glove-side shoulder.
Roughly (exactly) 64 seconds later, the Stars turned the puck over on a dump into the Avalanche zone. Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon cycled the puck through the Dallas zone with little to no pressure from the Stars, giving way to the inevitable.
Ryan Graves took a high-sticking penalty against Joe Pavelski, who sold it well like any good veteran. He really did take a stick to the collarbone, but oversold a headshot. The Stars did not convert on the man-advantage.
About halfway through the period, the Avalanche lost Erik Johnson to injury after he took a shot to the right ankle while colliding with Blake Comeau in front of Grubauer. He went to the locker room and did not make it back in the first period.
The Stars got the go-ahead goal again when Blake Comeau took a slap shot from the top of the zone that went through a lot of traffic in front of the net, also glove-side on Grubauer.
On the Dallas end, Anton Khudobin did the hero’s work of being the last line of defense against MacKinnon on several doorstop shots in this period. This period really saw all parts of the Stars’ game working together well.
With just over three minutes left to go in the first, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov took advantage of some tired Avalanche players after a long shift and absolutely walked by Ryan Graves and Samuel Girard in a breakaway. Benn had a beautiful pass to Radulov, who flipped backhand and forehand before putting the puck behind Grubauer.
The Stars went on the penalty kill for the final two minutes when Mattias Janmark got called for a hooking penalty.
Shots: Stars 8, Avalanche 13
Score: Stars 3, Avalanche 1
Erik Johnson returned to the ice for the beginning of the second period, but left again midway through after taking a collision with Janmark. He did not return for the rest of the period.
The Avalanche also lost Grubauer to injury. It was unclear what happened as he went down for a save, stretched out his right leg for the stop, but then favored his left when leaving the ice. Pavel Francouz, who shut out the Stars during the round-robin game, came in for Grubauer.
The Avalanche brought themselves within one about five minutes into the period when Gabriel Landeskog scored his first goal of the playoffs.
Khudobin had already made saves on Makar and MacKinnon, but the Stars couldn’t clear the puck or control the rebounds. Landeskog followed the puck to the net and shoved it behind Khudobin’s skate from behind the net.
Radulov gave the Stars a little breathing room with his second of the night, cleaning up a rebound from Seguin’s attempt.
Both teams lost a player to the penalty box and went 4-on-4. Janmark had been called for high-sticking and Graves was called for tripping Pavelski on a breakaway.
It’s a good thing Benn already had three assists by this point in the game, because a super-lazy play from him led to the Avalanche getting back within one. He made a drop pass in the neutral zone to Miro Heiskanen, who was not ready or expecting the pass and missed it entirely. Nazem Kadri chased Heiskanen and the puck in the Dallas zone. Heiskanen beat Kadri to the puck, but couldn’t hold on to it. Kadri got the puck out from the boards, it went to Girard at the top of the zone, and MacKinnon redirected the shot around Khudobin.
Shots: Stars 16, Avalanche 10
Score: Stars 4, Avalanche 3
Erik Johnson watch: he was back on the bench about three minutes into the period and played the rest of the game.
John Klingberg got absolutely bodied against the boards to make the pass, but he got the puck out to Jason Dickinson, who so far had played a quiet game. Dickinson passed to Roope Hintz, who got the puck in the net.
From another angle:
And that ended up being the final score. The Stars turtled and score effects took over the latter part of the third period, but despite having an empty net for over three minutes, the Avalanche couldn’t catch up.
Final Shots: Stars 30, Avalanche 31
Final Score: Stars 5, Avalanche 3
The Stars now lead the series 1-0 and will be back at it on Monday, August 24 at 8:45 p.m. CT.