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May 6, 2024 9:19 pm

Stars face quick turnaround, take on Avs in Game 1

dallas stars

Knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champions earned the Dallas Stars a shot at the club that won it all two seasons ago.

The Stars, who eliminated the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series with Sunday’s 2-1 victory, will host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday to begin the second round.

“It’s another big test, a huge test,” Stars coach Peter DeBoer said. “There are some similarities to Vegas, and the one thing about (the Avalanche) is we’re very familiar with them. It’s not like we need a lot of work on pre-scout. We’re very familiar with each other. We’ll enjoy this one in the short term and then start thinking about that.”

Colorado won three of four meetings with Dallas this season, but the Stars claimed the top seed in the West with 113 points, six more than the Avalanche.

Dallas has to regroup and be ready for a quick turnaround after a difficult opening round. The Stars lost the first two games of the series at home against Vegas but bounced back to win four of the next five thanks to a balanced attack and strong defensive play. Dallas surrendered only nine goals in the last five games of the series.

“There’s probably a lot of doubters out there after Game 2 that probably thought we couldn’t come back. A lot of believers in this room, in this organization,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “We played two pretty good games in the first two and we felt we were the better team. Fortunately, we came out on top.”

The Avalanche have been anticipating their next opponent since knocking out the Winnipeg Jets in five games, a series that ended last Tuesday.

Colorado lost Game 1 against the Jets before winning four straight games. The Avalanche became only the fourth team in NHL history to score at least five goals in each of its first five games of the playoffs. Colorado racked up 28 goals against Winnipeg, which was tied with the Florida Panthers for the fewest goals allowed in the regular season.

“If those were the five best (games) in the season, our next five are going to have to be even better,” Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar said. “That’s the way the playoffs go. You have to keep getting better and better each round.”

As much as Colorado’s attack was led by Makar (two goals, seven assists), along with top-line forwards Nathan MacKinnon (two, seven) and Mikko Rantanen (two, seven), the Avalanche’s offensive depth was on full display against Winnipeg.

Valeri Nichushkin scored seven goals, Artturi Lehkonen tallied five times and Casey Mittelstadt, who was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline, netted one goal and recorded five assists.

The late-season acquisitions of forwards Mittelstadt, Brandon Duhaime, Yakov Trenin and Zach Parise, as well as defenseman Sean Walker, have made the Avalanche a more complete squad compared with the one that was eliminated in the first round last spring.

“We filled some needs that we had and made our team stronger depth-wise,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “The defensive aspect of the games, some size and strength things. Once that happened at the deadline, our team was really focused on the opportunity ahead of us, and they did a nice job getting ready to play for round one.”

–Field Level Media

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