If the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars manage to meet in the playoffs, it’s a matchup that will surely take years off some people’s lives. These two teams produce fast, physical, exciting hockey, and Thursday night was no different.
And for the second time in as many matchups, the Avalanche came out on top.
Down 4-2 in the third period, the Avalanche rallied in the third period to tie the game up, and in overtime, Nathan MacKinnon was the hero for the second straight game, giving Colorado the 5-4 victory. The NHL All-Star beat Scott Wedgewood on a breakaway, giving Colorado their second straight come from behind victory against the Stars this season.
Jonathan Drouin scored two huge goals for the road team, and Mikko Rantanen tied the game late in regulation. MacKinnon finished with another three point night, tying him with Nikita Kucherov for the league lead in scoring. In net, Alexandar Georgiev made 28 saves, with his biggest coming in the extra period.
Two good teams matching up for the second time this season produced an entertaining first period. Early on, the Stars had the bulk of the chances, and Alexandar Georgiev had to be strong in net. He did his part, keeping the Stars off the scoresheet while the Avalanche found their legs.
Unfortunately for Georgiev, some bad luck gave the Stars the early lead.
After some battling behind the net, Ross Colton came away with the puck. He went to stickhandle the puck, but lost it in the process, and it slid right out in front of the net. Georgiev didn’t expect that, so he wasn’t even looking when the puck landed right on Dadanov’s stick for an easy tap-in. Tough luck, but Colorado did bounce back, and they got some good luck of their own.
On the rush, Miles Wood sent a cross-ice pass to Nathan MacKinnon. The All-Star went to pass the puck to Valeri Nichushkin in front, but it bounced off the Stars defender and through the legs of Wedgewood, tying the game at one. Just like that, we were even again.
Colorado did get two powerplay chances in the first, but couldn’t capitalize. Their best opportunity came off a Jonathan Drouin one-timer, which went off the cross-bar.
The Avalanche were strong in the first period, but in the second, the ice was tilted a fair bit in favor of the home team. Dallas were credited with all of the high-danger scoring chances at even strength, and Colorado had some shifts where they were stuck in their own end.
Early in the period, a big save by Wedgewood at one end led to a rush for the Stars the other way. Matt Duchene made his way around Ryan Johansen, and in the process, drew a penalty. It didn’t matter though, because the rebound of his shot landed right on the stick of Tyler Seguin, who beat a sprawling Georgiev to restore the Dallas lead.
Colorado killed a Ross Colton penalty early in the period, but halfway through the second, a bizarre play put Jack Johnson in the box for four minutes. While skating backwards, Johnson tripped over the stick of a Stars player, and in the process, got his stick up on Miro Heiskanen. Pretty clear high-sticking, but the refs called it a double-minor, which means typically means blood. The TV cameras didn’t catch any blood, which led to some confusion for everyone. Just a strange moment in the game, and the Stars did take advantage.
The Stars pinned the Avalanche in their own end, and against a tired penalty killing unit, Duchene found a seam, hitting Joe Pavelski backdoor. Pavelski, a noted Avalanche killer, one-timed the puck past Georgiev, giving the Stars the crucial two goal lead.
Colorado got a late powerplay, and scored what ended up being a crucial goal. It took the powerplay a while to get going, but eventually, they came through. Devon Toews came on late to replace a tired Cale Makar, and one-timed a MacKinnon pass towards the net. After bouncing around, it snuck behind Wedgewood, and Jonathan Drouin cleaned up the rebound, cutting the lead to one with just 11 seconds to go in the period.
In the third, both teams lost crucial defensemen, forcing the teams to play a little shorthanded. Bowen Byram left early in the period with a lower-body injury and did not return, and Miro Heiskanen exited on the Stars side.
The Avalanche pushed hard early in the third, but couldn’t come up with the tying goal. Nine minutes into the third, the Stars capitalized on a rare neutral zone turnover by Nichushkin, who lost the puck to Mason Marchment. Jack Johnson, who had just jumped onto the ice, was beat, creating a rush for the Stars. Marchment hit Seguin in front, and while his initial shot was stopped, he followed up the rebound, beating Georgiev.
It wouldn’t take long for Colorado to cut the deficit to one again. Just 38 seconds later, a Jack Johnson shot was deflected home by Drouin for his second of the night. A much needed response from the road team.
The Avalanche kept pushing and pushing, but couldn’t find the tying goal. With a little over two minutes left, they pulled the goaltender. Dallas came close to getting that extra goal, but Cale Makar blocked a shot from center ice, giving Colorado another chance. A chance they would take advantage of.
A nice forecheck by Colorado led to a puck retrieval, and the puck came to Makar at the point. His initial shot deflected around after a Wedgewood save, and for some reason, the Stars goaltender went flopping. That worked as a disadvantage to him, ultimately. The puck eventually hit Rantanen’s skate, and trickled towards Wedgewood, but his momentum pushed the puck over the goal line, giving Colorado the tying goal.
With a minute left, you’d think that would be the end of it, but Rantanen had another great chance in regulation, and the Stars nearly won the game at the buzzer, but the game required overtime to find a winner.
The first half of overtime was a lot of what you see these days. Both teams reloading, waiting for the other team to make a mistake. Neither team budged. Nichushkin had a nice chance in front, but couldn’t get his stick on a rebound.
At the other end, when the Stars pushed, Georgiev was there to save his team. Matt Duchene broke away from Mikko Rantanen at one point, but the left toe of Georgiev kept the puck out, allowing overtime to continue.
About 3:30 into the extra period, the Stars looked to have a good rush, with Jason Robertson carrying the puck into the zone. Devon Toews played him perfectly, keeping him to the outside, and when he went into the corner, the stick of Toews poked the puck away. A waiting MacKinnon got the puck, chipped it past Tyler Seguin, and was off the races on a breakaway.
It was actually a 2-on-0, but MacKinnon used Toews as a distraction, and beat Wedgewood low blocker, his new favorite spot, giving Colorado the overtime victory. For the second time in as many matchups, the Avalanche had come from behind to leave Dallas with two points.
Colorado will now head home for their first afternoon affair of the season. They’ll take on the Florida Panthers on Saturday at Ball Arena. That game starts at 2 PM MST.