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Central Slipping Away? Defensive Issues Continue, Avalanche Fall 7-4 To Stars




If you’re an Avalanche fan and want to travel for the postseason, it’s starting to look like you need to focus on accommodations in Winnipeg.

Dallas, who were only able to get into Denver this morning because of all the crazy wind in Colorado, looked like the more rested team, despite playing yesterday. They came out firing, owning most of the first period, and a three goal second period catapulted them to a 7-4 win over the Avalanche. With the win, Dallas jumps five points ahead of the Avalanche int he standings. With only four games remaining, it’s looking more and more difficult for Colorado to catch them. On the flip side, Winnipeg is now just two points behind Colorado with a game in hand. They own the tiebreakers over Colorado at the moment.

Brandon Duhaime and Nathan MacKinnon led the Avalanche offensively with two points each, while Alexandar Georgiev stopped30 shots. Colorado was forced to play without both Mikko Rantanen and Miles Wood, who both are dealing with injuries.

First Period

Jared Bednar stuck with his number one goaltender, starting Alexandar Georgiev after a really rough outing in Edmonton. For the first 10 minutes, Georgiev was about the only guy that looked ready to play.

Colorado did get on the board early a bit of a flukey goal, as Sean Walker just let a shot go from the point that fluttered past Oettinger, who looked genuinely surprised the puck hit the net. That gave the Avalanche the lead, but it was about the only thing Colorado had going early. The Stars dominated, outshooting the Avalanche 10-1 early. Georgiev kept Colorado in it with some big stops, including a nice glove save on Wyatt Johnston.

Funny thing is, the Avalanche found their legs in the second half of the period, but that’s when they started to give up some goals. It started with an aggressive play by Josh Manson at the defensive blueline, which he had a lot of in period one. Most of them worked, this one burned him. He skated right past Matt Duchene, essentially giving him a breakaway. Duchene out-waited Georgiev, tying the game up at one.

With just 43 seconds left in the period, it looked like Colorado was going to get bailed out by a broken stick. Turns out, that’s what actually burned them. After Johnston’s stick shattered on a one-timer, the puck just sat there. Lindell picked it up and hit a wide open Jamie Benn at the side of the net, who tapped it home to give the Stars the lead.

Second Period

Period two belonged to special teams.

Colorado got the first powerplay just a few minutes in after Ryan Suter was called for slashing, which he does often but rarely gets caught. The Avalanche capitalized, as Nathan MacKinnon made a ridiculous cross-ice pass to Artturi Lehkonen, who was able to beat a sliding Oettinger and tie the game.

One call changed the period, though. Colorado had control of the puck in the offensive zone, but Sean Walker high-sticked Jamie Benn, drawing blood and a four minute penalty. It proved to be very costly, as Roope Hintz scored one off the rush, and Tyler Seguin added another.

A controversial non-icing call occurred about 10 seconds before Cale Makar took a slashing penalty, and the Stars capitalized on that one as well. Dallas won a board battle along the wall, and Marchment beat Sam Girard to the net. Marchment tipped Harley’s shot to himself, depositing the puck into an empty net and making it 5-2.

Colorado got one back in the final minute, as Nathan MacKinnon’s point shot created a huge rebound. Brandon Duhaime outworked his man in front, diving for the puck and putting it past Oettinger, giving the Avalanche some life going into the third.

Third Period

Colorado made a minor push in the third period, but the Stars did a good job of keeping things to the outside. It took 10:15 for the Avalanche to cut the lead to one, which is probably longer than they would have hoped. Jonathan Drouin won a face-off in the offensive zone and Devon Toews did a nice job keeping it in at the point. He let a quick wrist shot go, and Drouin tipped it past Oettinger to make it 5-4.

With the goal, Drouin has now tied his career high in points with 53.

That was all the Avalanche had left in the tank, which is not ideal because they weren’t the team playing on the second night of a back-t0-back. With five minutes left, the Stars scored a goal that pretty much summed up the night. Stankhoven beat Mittelstadt to the net, and the puck just sat in the crease. Johnston looked like he wanted it a heck of a lot more than Girard, as he beat the Avalanche defenseman to the puck and poked it into the empty net.

Seguin scored an empty netter, finishing off the game and making a Central Division title look more and more likely for the Stars.

Colorado will likely practice on Monday before hosting the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. That game starts at 7 PM MST.

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