Just when it looked like things were about to get out of hand, the Colorado Avalanche picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and went to work.
And from that point on, it was all Colorado.
Down 3-0 just 33 minutes into the game, the Avalanche scored six unanswered goals on their way to a 6-3 victory over the Central Division leading Dallas Stars. It was a huge statement win for the road team, especially after the way things fell apart the last two Saturday’s. Six different players scored goals for Colorado, but the offensive stars were Valeri Nichuhskin and Cale Makar. For the second consecutive game, Makar picked up three assists, and Nichushkin took the game over in the third, scoring a goal and an assist.
Alexandar Georgiev recovered after a slow start, stopping 25 of the 28 shots sent his way for his 10th win of the season.
The start of this one looked like two teams feeling each other out. There wasn’t an official shot on goal for either team until almost five minutes in, as it was a lot of neutral zone play. Neither team wanted to make the first mistake.
About ten minutes into the period, the Avalanche started to show signs of cracking. The Stars got a cycle going in the corner that confused the Avalanche a little bit, and Tyler Seguin snuck away from Sam Girard. He knocked a pass down out of mid-air in the slot, and placed a perfect shot right under the crossbar and in, giving the Stars a 1-0 lead.
Soon after, it looked like the Avalanche were going to tie things up, as Miles Wood was left alone on a 2-on-1, but his shot hit the crossbar and bounced out.
An offensive zone penalty by Jonathan Drouin gave the Stars a powerplay, and in 20 seconds, they made the Avalanche pay. Joe Pavelski, as he typically does against Colorado, snuck away from all the defenders, and one-timed a shot that just trickled over the goal line, giving Dallas the two goal lead.
Just like the previous two Saturday’s, the Avalanche were in danger of letting the game get away from them. Could they reel it back in?
Colorado did have a great chance to cut the lead to one early in the period, but Valeri Nichushkin couldn’t beat Jake Oettinger after a strong power move past the defenseman. At the other end of the ice, the Stars got one opportunity, and they took advantage.
A failed clear by Sam Girard ended up in the back of the net in a matter of seconds, as Georgiev kicked a rebound right out to Seguin, who backhanded it into the empty net.
With the game now 3-0, this game could have gone multiple ways. Would the Avalanche cave like they have the prior two Saturday’s? Or would they pick themselves up and get to work?
Well, it didn’t start out well. Logan O’Connor took a hooking penalty 15 seconds after Seguin’s goal. Colorado killed that penalty, but five minutes later, Nathan MacKinnon found his way into the box. With MacKinnon in the box, Kiviranta shot a puck over the glass, giving the Stars an extended 5-on-3.
Things could have gotten ugly real fast, but the Avalanche found a way out of it. Georgiev made some big saves, and the penalty kill did it’s job, including Cale Makar killing a large chunk of the 5-on-3 by himself, outworking Matt Duchene for a puck along the wall.
With both penalties killed, the Avalanche went to work, and it started with their third line. Wood, who hit the post earlier in the game, was sprung for a breakaway by Ross Colton, and although he appeared to lose the puck on the way in, it worked out, because it slid between Oettinger’s pads. The Stars challenged for goaltender interference, but lost, giving Colorado a powerplay.
Colorado didn’t score on that powerplay, but Ryan Johansen took a high stick immediately after, giving Colorado another man advantage. And Johansen cut the lead to one soon after.
After winning an offensive zone face-off, he went straight to the net. The puck eventually came around to Makar at the point, who fired a one-timer towards Oettinger. Johansen deflected the puck past Oettinger’s glove, and all of the momentum was on Colorado’s side.
Dallas found a way to get to the intermission with the lead, but the ice was clearly tilted.
In the third, a familiar face to Stars fans decided to take the game over.
Valeri Nichushkin, who was bought out by Dallas back in 2019, exacted a small bit of revenge on his former team, as he was far and away the best player on the ice in the third. The gigantic forward, who had four goals in his previous four games, decided to keep his hot streak going.
Four minutes into the period, Nichushkin hit a pinching Caleb Jones at the left circle, and went straight to the net. Jones’ pass was deflected away by the Stars, but it landed right on Nichushkin’s stick, and he fired it past Oettinger, tying the game at three. All the momentum belonged to the Avalanche, and all of the energy had left the building.
Dallas really didn’t even try to push back. After Nichushkin’s goal, it was all Avalanche. Logan O’Connor nearly scored on a break, catching the Stars on an awful change, and the home team was just hanging on by a thread.
Colorado kept coming, and eventually, they were rewarded for their effort.
With six minutes left, Nichushkin carried the puck up high in the offensive zone, and after nearly losing it, sent a backhand down low. It eventually landed on the stick of Mikko Rantanen.
Bad news for the Stars.
Rantanen, who possesses one of the best backhands in the league, used it to his advantage, as he wasted no time firing a backhand shot over Oettinger’s right shoulder. Just like that, the Avalanche had the lead.
And before the PA man could even announce Rantanen’s goal, it was 5-3.
Kiviranta, the former Stars forward, put a relatively soft shot on Oettinger, and the Stars goalie couldn’t handle it. It trickled behind him, and Andrew Cogliano smacked it into the open net. In the span of 11 seconds, the Avalanche had not only taken the lead, but taken complete control of the game.
Dallas made a bit of a push with the net empty, but Georgiev held things down in net. Colton buried his second empty net goal of the season with 30 seconds remaining, making it six unanswered goals for the Avalanche.
The Avalanche outshot the Stars 14-5 in the third period, and looked dominant, stepping on the throats of the Stars. A clear statement win for the road team.
Colorado now heads to Nashville on Monday to take on the Predators, who are near the bottom of the league. That game starts at 6 PM MST.