Let me say that again.
The Dallas Stars, who were shutout 4-0 by Pavel Francouz in the round robin, have a 2-0 series lead over the top-seed Colorado Avalanche, favored by many to win the Stanley Cup.
Oh, and they’ve done it by outscoring them 10-5 in total.
The start of Game 2 was less than ideal for Dallas, who were absolutely smothered by the high-flying Avalanche. Colorado outshot Dallas 20-6 in the first 20 minutes alone, but only managed a single goal thanks to the mighty efforts of Anton Khudobin.
However, after going down 2-0 in the first period, the Stars came roaring back to life in the second, scoring four unanswered goals within 10 minutes before the end of the period. Dallas then reverted to their patented shut-down defense in the third — an empty-netter with just 10 seconds left was just icing on the cake.
Besides the epic comeback in the second period, the biggest storyline of the game will no doubt be the referees. The men in black-and-white called thirteen penalties on both teams, including nine on the Stars. But whereas the Avalanche only went 2-for-8 on their power plays, Dallas went 2-for-3. And that’s not to mention Esa Lindell’s goal to end the second period, for which review was inconclusive and only stood because it was called on ice as a goal.
Now with a two-game lead, the Stars have a little breathing room whereas the Avalanche have virtually no room for error. That’s not to say the Stars should take their foot off the pedal, of course — just that so long as they keep playing as they have been, then the boys in Victory Green will be in good shape.
After a disappointing showing in Game 1, the Avalanche came out in full force Monday night. They were aggressive both on offense and defense, constantly applying pressure to the Stars’ puck-carriers and refusing to give them time to set up.
Nearly six minutes in, Roope Hintz went to the penalty box for holding against Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon repaid the favor by opening the scoring with a laser shot just 14 seconds later:
Not much later, Mattias Janmark and Gabriel Landeskog took a pair of roughing minors, giving the teams some 4-on-4 time. That didn’t look much different than the rest of the period, with the Avalanche continuing to control the ice and vastly outshooting the Stars. By a lot. And I mean a lot.
With about five minutes, Colorado went back on the power play after Taylor Fedun pulled a suplex against J.T. Compher. Thankfully,
the Stars Anton Khudobin stood tall, and the period ended with Dallas (somehow) down by only one.
Score: Colorado 1, Dallas 0
Shots: Colorado 20, Dallas 6
We saw a few penalties in the first period, but the second showed that the referees obviously missed the memo that penalties are turned “off” in the playoffs. Mikko Rantanen went to the box early due to interference, though the Stars weren’t able to even the score on the power play.
Eight-and-a-half minutes in, Joe Pavelski was called for slashing, and the Avalanche did find the back of the net, courtesy of Rantanen after just 10 seconds:
Dallas then headed back onto the power play when Samuel Girard was called for a slashing of his own. And then Ian Cole was penalized for interference against Pavelski, giving Dallas a 5-on-3. This time they struck true, with Pavelski making up for his earlier penalty with a power-play goal of his own after only 11 seconds:
Alexander Radulov finds Joe Pavelski across the ice and the Stars score on the power play to bring it to within a goal.— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) August 25, 2020
DAL 1 - 2 COL // P2 pic.twitter.com/GS1tdF250V
(And yes, that’s three total power-play goals in a row scored less than 15 seconds after the most recent penalty).
Not satisfied with simply cutting the deficit by one, Radek Faksa decided to score a second power-play goal, tying it up 2-2:
Then, the Avalanche got their own 5-on-3, thanks to a slashing from Andrew Cogliano followed by a delay-of-game penalty by Blake Comeau. With two of the Stars’ best penalty-killers gone and arguably the league’s best power play on the ice, you’d think Colorado would score. Yet somehow they didn’t, because hockey is weird.
But you know what’s even weirder than that? Whatever this was:
That goal by Alexander Radulov gave Dallas the lead, which naturally led to another penalty as John Klingberg was called for tripping. But Khudobin and the Stars’ penalty kill refused to buckle, and as the penalty expired, Esa Lindell scored a fourth unanswered goal through 100% pure willpower:
If you didn’t see the puck cross the goal line, it’s okay because no one else did either at the time (although this angle helps confirm it). The play was reviewed, but as there wasn’t enough to overturn the call, Dallas headed into the locker room (somehow) up by two goals.
Score: Colorado 2, Dallas 4
Shots: Colorado 31, Dallas 24
The Stars entered the third period with a two-goal lead, and you all know what that means. They did everything they could to shut down the Avalanche and succeeded, holding them to a small handful of shots for the first several minutes.
Six minutes into the final frame, Dallas went down a man again thanks to a holding call on Mattias Janmark. For those of you keeping track at home, that was Colorado’s seventh power play of the night, although it ended up being their fifth to come up empty.
The Stars continued to suffocate the Avalanche, keeping them from mustering so much as a single shot on net for several minutes. In fact, the best scoring chance came courtesy of Roope Hintz, who was set up beautifully by Jason Dickinson but failed to get the puck past Pavel Francouz.
With just under three minutes left, Colorado had their last chance for a comeback when Blake Comeau went to the box for interference. The Avalanche soon pulled Francouz for the 6-on-4, but it just wasn’t their night. The penalty expired, and Jamie Oleksiak iced the game with an (unintentional) empty-netter.
Final Score: Colorado 2, Dallas 5
Final Shots: Colorado 40, Dallas 27
Game 3 of the series will begin at 9:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, August 26.