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Stars hand Avalanche a 4-3 shootout loss

First they were out of it. Then they were back in it. Then out of it again. THEN in it. And finally...? Uh, you know how it goes.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche fought back from a 2-0 deficit against the Dallas Stars tonight to take a lead a third-period lead—only to lose that and fall 4-3 in a shootout in 2016-17’s penultimate game.

Time and time again this season, Colorado has managed to play completely ineffective hockey in the first period. We’ve speculated all year what could possibly keep this team from playing respectably from the onset, but reasons escape us just as they do the team. Tonight began very much the way the rest of those games have—flat as a Kansas highway. The Avalanche were able to put just four shots-on-goal in the period while giving up 18 to the Stars. Fortunately Jeremy Smith was mostly up to the challenge.

Devin Shore would put up the game’s first point, hustling into the crease to clean up a Greg Pateryn slap shot from the point that glazed off of Cody Eakin and behind Smith. The tip-in goal was his 13th of the year. A similar play would occur later in the period, with a puck sneaking through Smith in the crease; but after a lengthy replay, it was determined that one stayed outside the goal line.

A Rocco Grimaldi hooking penalty would put the Stars on the power play to start the second period, and they would take advantage. An unperturbed Tyler Seguin skated toward the net in the Avs’ zone a dished to an also wide-open John Klingberg, who waited for just the right moment to scoot a pass across the crease for an easy Jaime Benn tip-in to put Dallas up 2-0 just 37 seconds in. The goal was Benn’s 26th of the season.

Colorado would strike next later in the period when Sven Andrighetto, he of many points since joining the Avalanche, circled around in the Stars’ zone and passed back off the wall to Tyson Barrie along the blue line. Barrie unleashed a big slap shot through traffic and into the net, initially receiving credit for the goal before it was eventually determined Mikko Rantanen had deflected it for his 19th of the year.

The third period would be even more kind, yielding goals to both Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, both on tips in front of the net. Francois Beauchemin got the primary assist on the former and Tyson Barrie got his second helper of the night on the latter, giving the Avalanche their first lead of the contest with 11:36. For most teams, such a third-period comeback might be a catalyst for an eventual victory, but we’re not talking about most teams here.

Tyler Seguin got a tip-in himself with 6:16 left to play, redirecting an Esa Lindell wrister from the point to tie the game 3-3. Neither team would score for the remainder of regulation, yielding some free three-on-three hockey for those in attendance.

Dallas appeared to win during the first overtime session when John Klingberg put the puck in the net; but after the Avalanche had walked back to the locker room, replay officials determined the Stars were offside on the play, erasing the game-winning goal from the score sheet. However, this would only be temporary. After both teams went to a shootout, Jeremy Smith coughed up a couple of goals and his forwards would fail to reciprocate on the other end.

Despite picking up a point, Colorado fell to 22-55-4 on the season. They will play one last time on Sunday against the St. Louis Blues before we are all spared from having to watch this on-ice product ever again.