Still in pursuit of the Central Division title, the Colorado Avalanche faced their next biggest game of the year in hosting the Dallas Stars. This game went much better with a well-rounded effort and resulted in a 5-2 victory for Colorado as the division race heats up again.
It was a more spirited start for the Avalanche and they got rewarded with the first goal of the game at 8:54. The Stars completely lost Nathan MacKinnon and left him alone at the left circle. Mikko Rantanen was engaged with several Stars players behind the net and feathered a crazy cross-ice pass to the awaiting MacKinnon and he left no doubt on a shot that quickly found the back of the net for the early lead.
The rest of the period was fairly even except for the team in burgundy having to kill two made up penalties. But after 20 minutes of play the Avalanche held the 1-0 advantage despite a 10-9 deficit in shots and 0-2 in power plays given.
Logan O’Connor extended the lead in the second frame at 6:04 on a fairly harmless shot as he used Dallas defenseman Miro Heiskanen as a screen. Dallas has only come back to win from a deficit after the first period three times this season and that score would prove crucial.
On their third power play the Stars finally broke through at 11:56 on a goal in tight by Tyler Seguin. There were some great chances for both teams but then the Avalanche received their second man advantage and cashed in with another MacKinnon goal a little over a minute remaining in the second period to restore the two-goal lead.
Colorado mainly took care of business to put this game away in the third period but of course there was still a bit of drama. At the nine minute mark Dallas scored a wrap-around goal with some chaos in the crease. Bednar challenged for goaltender interference and won due to some contact with Alexandar Georgiev.
With four minutes to go Dallas pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker and Val Nichushkin tipped a Mikko Rantanen shot for the fourth Avalanche goal. Jake Oettinger went back into the net until Dallas received a late power play and Joe Pavelski scored at 18:44. With the Stars net vacated again Rantanen finally put goal number 49 into the back of the net and the 5-2 victory was secured.
The (Avalanche) stars showed up in this game and led the way with MacKinnon’s two goals, which puts him at 97 points, and Rantanen’s four point effort. As each creep ever closer to their personal milestones it was much needed to set the tone in this massive game. Georgiev also reached 35 wins with the victory which has been a very successful first year for him as a full-time starter.
Minnesota’s loss to the Vegas Golden Night makes the evening even more interesting as the standing as basically a three-way tie again for the division. The Minnesota Wild still have a one point lead with 97 but the Avalanche have the game in hand. It should be a very interesting final two weeks of the regular season.
Another two-day break and then the last road trip to California begins at the home of the tanking San Jose Sharks for the first of two contests at 8:30 p.m. MT on Tuesday. April 4th.