In a game that meant a lot to both teams, the Avalanche came out of the gate flying. So did the Dallas Stars. You could definitely tell that there was a sense of motivation for both teams.
Fortunately for the Avs, their special teams game is really clicking right now, and this game was all about special teams as Colorado scored 2 powerplay goals and a shorthanded goal.
The Avs got the scoring started with a blast from the point by...Brett Clark? Yes Brett Clark. After a little give and go, Clark backed up and let one fly. The shot eluded a screened Marty Turco high to the stick side. Darcy Tucker and Brandon Yip picked up the assist on Clark's 2nd goal of the season. 1-0 Avs just over 5 minutes into the first period.
As the period went along it the Avs were really forcing the play. They were winning all the little battles along the boards and races to the puck and getting great scoring chances in front of Marty Turco. Then Scott Hannan was whistled for a holding call in the corner just over halfway through the period.
Dallas was working the puck around the perimeter really well, then T.J. Galiardi stole the puck away from the Dallas pointman and was off to the races. He scored on his own rebound and give the Avs a 2-0 lead. It was his 1st shorthanded goal of the season and Colorado's 5th SHG of the season. This goal seemed to absolutely suck the life out of the Stars. They were not the same team after that goal was scored.
Colorado continued to dominate the rest of the first period and managed to outshoot the Stars 14-12 and head into the 1st intermission with a 2-0 lead.
As the second period got underway, I was a little unsure whether or not the Avalanche were going to keep up the pace and continue to dominate play. I was pleasantly surprised to see that was exactly what happened.
The Avs came out extremely fast and continued to win the races to the pucks. This lead to the Avs earning another early PP as Jaime Benn was called for hooking. In true Avs fashion, they failed to convert on the powerplay chance. That discourage the team's solid all around effort though as they kept pouring on the pressure. The Stars had absolutely no time to do anything with the puck.
Unfortunately for the Stars as the saying goes, "when it rains, it pours", came true on the Avs third goal of the game. On what was going to be a sure icing call, the puck hit the linesman and lead to an odd man chance for the Avs. Chris Stewart buried a low, hard shot for his 17th goal of the season, giving the Avalanche a 3-0 lead.
Once the 3rd period started, the Stars again came out flying, but to no avail. Some sloppy play in their own zone lead to Paul Stastny potting his 11th goal of the season with the Avs on the powerplay a little more than halfway through the 3rd period.
With all of the pressure that the Avs were putting on Dallas, they were still getting pretty good scoring chances. Thanks to Craig Anderson he was up to the challenge as he stopped all 27 shots Dallas threw at him for his 5th shutout of the season.
Overall this was a great game for Colorado. They completely dominated the Stars in every aspect of this game. They even managed to out shoot the Stars 36-27.
Derek's 3 Stars of the Game:
3rd Star: Paul Stastny, (1G, 1A)
2nd Star: Chris Stewart, (1G, 1A)
1st Star: Craig Anderson, (27 Saves, 5th Shutout)