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May 10, 2024 6:24 pm

Stars not sweating as series moves to Colorado

avalanche stars

After surviving a stern test in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Dallas Stars are facing another in the Western Conference semifinals against the Colorado Avalanche.

The teams split the first two games in Dallas, with Colorado winning 4-3 in overtime in Game 1 and the Stars evening the series with a 5-3 win on Thursday night. The action moves to Denver for Game 3 on Saturday night, representing a tough reality for the Stars.

The Avalanche had the best home record in the NHL during the regular season (31-9-1) and, along with the New York Rangers, were the only teams to win 30 or more games on home ice. Colorado is already 2-0 in Denver during these playoffs and if it stays perfect will head into Game 5 with a commanding lead in the series.

The Stars, however, have faced a tougher task. They lost their first two home games of the playoffs but beat the Vegas Golden Knights on the road to tie the series, so playing in a hostile environment won’t be as intimidating.

“It’s 1-1 now. We were down 2-0 against Vegas; it’s a long way from there,” said Miro Heiskanen, who had two goals in Game 2. “It’s a lot better to be 1-1, huge win for us. We still need to be better.”

Dallas missed a chance to be up 2-0 when the Avalanche rallied from a three-goal deficit to win in overtime in Game 1. They nearly came back from trailing 4-0 after two periods on Thursday night, but the rally fell short.

“Some of the breakdowns we did in the third we didn’t do in the first two periods. We got away from that,” Dallas forward Jason Robertson said.

Colorado avoided losing defenseman Devon Toews, who left the game in the second period after taking a high hit from Jamie Benn. Toews went to the locker room but returned to the game.

Benn was initially assessed a major penalty but the officials reversed it after a review.

“I’ve seen many times guys get called for the head shot penalty with a lot less than that, but I guess they didn’t think so,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “And this time of the year you’ve got to play through some of that stuff.”

They’ve also had to play through slow starts.

“Just unfortunate (mistakes) just kind of keep compounding like that early in the game and then we’ve got to dig ourselves out of the hole,” defenseman Cale Makar said.

Colorado is hoping to get forward Jonathan Drouin back soon. He suffered a lower-body injury in the last game of the regular season and hasn’t played in the playoffs, although he has been skating with the team.

When and if he returns, Drouin will give the Avalanche another weapon, but they have plenty right now, especially Valeri Nichushkin.

The Russian forward has nine goals and an assist in the playoffs and has scored at least one goal in all seven games, which tied Pat LaFontaine for the longest streak to begin a postseason. LaFontaine did it with Buffalo in 1992.

–Field Level Media

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