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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

May 8, 2024 8:58 pm

Needing to dig out of another hole, Stars face Avs

dallas stars

In the first round of the NHL playoffs, the Dallas Stars were in the same position they’re currently facing as they take on the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal.

After blowing a three-goal, first-period lead in their 4-3 overtime loss Tuesday, the Stars are in another deficit in a best-of-seven series.

“There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Dallas forward Matt Duchene said. “We’ve been in this position before, and this time we want to make sure we split. That’s a high-octane team over there. It was a very different style of game. We can do a better job throughout the 60 minutes, imposing our game on them with the puck.”

The Stars lost the first two games in the opening round before recovering and beating the defending Stanley Cup-champion Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7. Dallas knows duplicating that feat will be a tall order.

The Stars must improve their ability to hold a lead, but that’s not the only area of concern. Dallas must find a way to curtail Colorado’s potent power play, which sparked the comeback with a pair of second-period man-advantage goals.

The Stars also need more from their lineup. While Wyatt Johnston, Jason Robertson and Jamie Benn have been providing consistent offense, other top players such as Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin and Duchene have been quiet.

“At the end of the night, their big guys delivered and were all over the scoresheet,” Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said. “Some of our scoring has to step up. We’ve been waiting for a series plus a game now for some of that.”

The Avalanche have won five consecutive playoff games since losing their first-round opener to the Winnipeg Jets. Colorado has shown plenty of offensive punch in that stretch.

As much as the Avalanche can take pride in drumming up an impressive comeback victory to kick off this series, they know it is not a long-term recipe for success against the Stars, who finished atop the Western Conference standings in the regular season.

“We had lapses, momentary lapses in our game, that put us on our heels,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “You can’t rest on the ice in the NHL in the Stanley Cup playoffs, not against a team like Dallas, right? We were doing some resting out there. We were watching other guys work, and the work wasn’t fluid enough as a group of five as what it needed to be.”

Knowing Colorado has the firepower to come back — led by Nathan MacKinnon, Valeri Nichushkin, Artturi Lehkonen, Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Cale Makar — is comforting. The Avalanche have 32 goals in six playoff games this year and are the only team averaging more than five goals per game in the postseason.

Colorado’s cavalcade of talent converted both power-play opportunities in Game 1, and has now clicked for eight goals on 18 chances with the man advantage in the playoffs this year.

“It’s been huge,” MacKinnon said, according to the Denver Post. “It’s our job to produce on the power play. It’s so tight out there. Guys are playing so hard defensively. The power play is huge. I’m sure they’ll make some adjustments. But we’ve got to keep finding ways to produce.”

–Field Level Media

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