Sunday night, the Avalanche faced off against the Dallas Stars in game four of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs but not after the players, like many other professional athletes, boycotted games to spotlight the Black Lives Matter movement. On Thursday night, the Avalanche came from behind to beat the Stars and make the series 2–1, but there were words that followed after the game that set up game four as a pivotal game in the series. The Stars could take a commanding 3–1 lead over Colorado, or the Avs could even up the series at two game a piece, forcing a best of three scenario to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Here is what happened.
Just when you thought the Avalanche would come with the energy they had in game three, they sleepwalk through the whole first period of game four. The game started with the Avs on the powerplay but it was lethargic and they could not even get through the neutral zone. The Avs did not register a shot on that powerplay and they would not get one until the 18 minute mark of the period. Yes, you read that right. Pavel Francouz did not have his best period either, allowing three goals on 10 shots. Two of them were on the Dallas powerplay, one scored by Radek Faksa on a rebound in front of Francouz and the other on a Jamie Benn redirect. The period concluded with Dallas up 3–0 and leading in shots 10–5.
Patrick Sharp of NBC Sports said it best after the period ended. “The Dallas Stars came out angry and there was no response from the Avalanche.” Anson Carter elaborated saying that “the Stars wanted to drag Colorado into a street fight,” and they did.
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) August 30, 2020
The Avalanche woke up in the second and quickly came back to get even with the Stars in shots on goal with 14 early in the period. Both teams were checking hard and seemed to trade minor penalties throughout the period. At times, Avs coach Jared Bednar was double-shifting Nathan MacKinnon to ignite some sort of spark while they still trailed the Stars 3–0. Thirteen minutes into the second, it was Val Nichushkin who got the Avs on the board first, cleaning up a shot from the point by Cale Makar.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) August 30, 2020
And after a pivotal penalty kill that sent Nathan MacKinnon to the box on an interference call on the Stars’ Corey Perry, the Avs found themselves on a 5-on-3 with under a minute left in the 2nd period. Colorado called a timeout which followed a powerplay goal by Cale Makar, drawing the Avs within one goal of tying the game.
BACK IN IT! 🚨
— #StanleyCup Playoffs on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) August 30, 2020
There was energy from both teams to start the third, but it was the Avalanche who would have a couple of miscues that would cost the. The first was a tripping penalty that led to a Roope Hintz goal, giving the Stars another two goal lead. Moments after, Cale Makar collected the puck behind the net, but somehow he lost it in front of Francouz who was scored on easily by Denis Gurianov making it again a three goal lead.
With under ten minutes in the period, Val Nichushkin scored his second goal of the game on a deflected wrist shot, but it was not enough for the Avs to complete the comeback. Even with a late goal by Vlad Namestnikov, the Avalanche fell to the Stars 5–4 and now trail Dallas 3–1 in the series.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 31, 2020
It will be a quick turnaround for this series as game five is on Monday at 7:45 pm MT. The Avalanche, who were one of the favorites all year to compete for the Stanley Cup, now face elimination in the second round. You can look at the key injuries to Philipp Grubauer, Erik Johnson, and Matt Calvert, but this should not be an excuse. The Avs had to play a gritter playoff-style game to match Dallas, but they failed. They have one more chance to fight for pucks, or else they will have to wait until next season.