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Too Little, Too Late: Avalanche Take Too Long To Get Going, Fall 5-3 To Stars




The Colorado Avalanche put a scare into the Dallas Stars with a comeback attempt in the third period, but eliminating a four goal deficit in a single period is difficult for any team, even the highest scoring team in the league. Ultimately, a sloppy second period cost the Avalanche in Game Two.

Dallas scored three goals in the second period, a lot of which came off unforced errors by Colorado, on their way to tying the series up with a 5-3 win at home. Three goals in the third made Stars fans clench a little bit, but the home team was ultimately able to hold on for the victory. Sloppy play, coupled with dumb penalties, put the Avalanche behind the eight ball and there just wasn’t enough time for them to recover.

Joel Kiviranta, Brandon Duhaime, and Valeri Nichushkin scored the goals for the road team. Alexandar Georgiev was easily the best player for the Avalanche, as it could have gotten out of hand without him in net. He finished the night with 26 saves.

First Period

First periods just aren’t a thing for the Colorado Avalanche, apparently. Game One didn’t exactly start the way they wanted, but it did feel like they had their legs a bit more. That wasn’t necessarily the case for the start of Game Two. They looked sloppy and slow, which is not a recipe for success for any team, let alone the Avalanche.

Dumb penalties didn’t help. Colorado, who took a lot of Too Many Men penalties during the regular season, got caught on one halfway through the period, but were able to kill that one off. However, they weren’t able to kill off Nathan MacKinnon’s delay of game penalty. Despite having time, the superstar flipped the puck out of play, giving the Stars another opportunity to score first.

They did just that. The Avalanche had a chance to clear the puck, but Josh Manson and Valeri Nichushkin couldn’t find the puck in the slot, giving the Stars another opportunity. Roope Hintz found Miro Heiskanen on a cross-ice pass, and the Finnish defenseman one-timed it past Georgiev, making it 1-0.

The rest of the period belonged to the netminders. Georgiev made a few nice pad saves in his net, while Oettinger saved his best for the final three minutes. It started with a toe save on Zach Parise in front, and ended with a glove save on Valeri Nichushkin with just two seconds left in the period. Those stops allowed the Stars to enter the intermission with the 1-0 lead.

Second Period

One word: woof. The second period went as poorly as it possibly could. Just 1:57 into the second, Josh Manson got caught on a pinch in the neutral zone, leading to a rush the other way. Colorado looked discombobulated on the backcheck, leaving Hintz wide open at the right circle, and the Stars center made it 2-0.

Then we got the big controversy of the period.

While retrieving a puck behind the net, Devon Toews took a heavy, high hit from Stars Captain Jamie Benn. Toews, clearly shaken up, was taken to the locker room while the refs, who didn’t initially call a penalty, reviewed the hit for a major. After a very short review, they determined it wasn’t a penalty at all, and Benn got off scot-free. Toews did eventually return to the game, but it didn’t make much of a difference.

The poor decisions continued as the period went on. Josh Manson airmailed a puck out of play with plenty of time for a penalty, and then an Artturi Lehkonen turnover led to a near breakaway for the Stars. Colorado’s goaltender was into the game, but not many other players were.

A cherry-picking Dadonov, who looked to be offside, found himself on a breakaway with about 5 minutes left in the period and missed the net, but the refs called Walker for a slash, giving the Stars another powerplay. They wasted no time capitalizing, as Heiskanen’s point shot hit Cogliano’s stick and deflected past Georgiev.

The next shift, Rantanen drew another penalty, giving the Avalanche an opportunity to get back into the game and turn the momentum a bit. They squandered that. Nichushkin did have a good look in front of the net on a deflection, but Oettinger got over to stop it. Seconds later, Nichushkin turned the puck over at the blueline, leading to an odd-man rush the other way. Harley’s initial shot was blocked, but it bounced off the glass and back in front of the net. None of the Colorado players stopped to defend anyone, leaving Tyler Seguin all alone. Seguin beat Georgiev, making it 4-0, and the rout was on.

Third Period

Colorado got on the board early in the third, thanks to one of the few skaters who showed up the entire night. A Josh Manson shot was deflected on net by Joel Kiviranta, creating a rebound that Kiviranta was able to chip past Oettinger, making it 4-1. Colorado had a little life, but wasted it, taking another too many men penalty just a few minutes later.

At the eight minute mark, the fourth line cut the lead to two. Cogliano forced a turnover at the defensive blueline, then carried it into the offensive zone. He hit a late trailing Brandon Duhaime, who beat Oettinger through a screen to make it 4-2.

Colorado continued to make it interesting, scoring one with the net empty, as Lehkonen shot bounced off the leg of Valeri Nichushkin past Oettinger. With just under four minutes remaining, the Avalanche had cut the lead to one and you could hear a pin drop in American Airlines Center, but that’s as close as Colorado would get. The powerplay failed to come through, and Esa Lindell added an empty netter to make it 5-3.

With the series tied up, everything will shift back to Denver, with Game Three taking place Saturday at 8 PM MST.

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