The opening frame of last night’s game was reminiscent of Game 1. Both teams came out trying to set the tone and impose their will on the other side. That’s likely why the hit count was 25-22 in favor of the Avalanche after the first 20 minutes.
Colorado got the only power play of the first period, but the Stars continued their good penalty killing from the last half of Game 2 and limited any real dangerous looks they had.
Dallas would open the goal scoring tonight when Jamie Benn got a good look from behind the net at some scrambling Avalanche players. Their defensive break down left Tyler Seguin all alone in the slot, and he wasted no time burying the pass from Benn.
The Stars would take the 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Though Dallas had a good start to the period, keeping the Avalanche pinned into the defensive zone for the first 40 seconds, they gave up the tying goal one minute into the middle frame. Nikita Zadorov sent a knuckle-puck from near the blueline and Anton Khudobin was just a few inches short of getting his glove over to snag it out of the air.
Not long after, Mattias Janmark was able to draw the first power play for the Stars thanks to a Kevin Connauton hooked him on the way to the net front. Dallas recorded two shots on goal and followed the two-minute man advantage with another solid shift in the offensive zone, building a little momentum.
It was short lived, however, when Andre Burakovsky would take advantage of the Stars getting caught too deep in their own zone. With three players in Victory Green crowded around the goal mouth, Burakovsky had a ton of time and space to wire a shot that went right over Khudobin’s glove hand.
It’s almost like they did a little pre-scouting on Khudobin, as both goals came on that glove side.
After a scrum by the net mouth that saw Ian Cole and Jamie Oleksiak take offsetting penalties, Gabriel Landeskog gave the Avalanche a two-goal lead. He slipped the puck five hole on Khudobin even as Miro Heiskanen was all over his back trying to defend against him. Playing at 4-on-4 favors the speedy Colorado team, and that’s what had the referee calling a delayed penalty on Dallas when the goal negated a power play chance by the Avalanche.
Instead, they’d get that chance later in the period when Taylor Fedun was called for interference against Vladislav Namestnikov. Dallas would kill that penalty and then take another not long after when Mattias Janmark got his stick up high on Tyson Jost. The Stars once again killed the penalty, even though for half of it Blake Comeau was out there without a stick after he broke it earlier in the kill.
The horn sounded, and Namestnikov leveled a hard late hit on Andrej Sekera. The entire five-man unit on the ice immediately got their hackles raised as a result, and Namestinkov was given a penalty. Dallas would have a full power play opportunity on a fresh sheet of ice to try to get themselves back into this one.
Though Dallas would start with a power play and register three shots on goal, Pavel Francouz was more than up to the task. The Stars were starting to wear the Avalanche down, and it showed when Landeskog took a penalty not long after the Stars’ first power play of the period ended.
Not technically a power play goal, as the period had expired, Denis Gurianov took a sweet feed from Roope Hintz to capitalize on the momentum the team had built up in back-to-back power plays to put the Stars within one with more than 15 minutes left in the final 20 minutes.
By that point, the Stars had a 10-1 shots on goal advantage and seemed to be ready to roll in a close game.
Comeau cashed in about five minutes later, with Dallas having all but dominated the possession game for the first half of the period. John Klingberg had a good play in front of Comeau where he could have played the puck. Instead, he shielded the puck from the Avalanche players closing in on him, lifting his stick so Comeau knew to take it instead. Comeau’s shot was unobstructed as it went past Francouz.
It took a minute and a half for Dallas to take the lead, with three unanswered goals scored in a row.
This one was courtesy of an Esa Lindell - Jamie Benn connection. Off an offensive zone faceoff, Benn won the draw and sent the puck back to Lindell. He then shot it right up the middle of the ice with Benn in the slot, who apparently slightly redirected the puck to give the Stars a 4-3 lead.
That one didn’t last long, as the game turned into a shootout. Less than a minute later, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen came into the zone. Rantanen was able to find open ice as MacKinnon drew all of the Stars defensive players to him. A well-executed cross-ice pass later, and the game was tied.
Just 1:52 later, the Avalanche retook the lead thanks to a Nazem Kadri redirect past Khudobin to cap off what was a wild third period. Unfortunately, Dallas couldn’t find that fifth goal tonight to get the game back to even, and the Avalanche would take Game 3.
Heiskanen got cross-checked in open iceand went down awkwardly as the Stars had the goaltender pulled for the extra attacker. That allowed Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to score in the empty net. He did play a shift after taking some time to get to the bench after that hit as the Stars tried to get anything back with under a minute left in the game. He also was on the ice the last 30 seconds of the game, so that seems promising that he wasn’t hurt long-term on that play.
The Stars have a 2-1 lead in the series. The talent of the Avalanche was never going to let this series get close to a sweep. The Stars knew it wasn’t going to be that easy, and that they still had a lot of work to do.
They’ll have to get right down to it again as Game 4 is coming up on Friday.