In a highly anticipated Round Two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Avalanche and Stars had to be ready as Game One started just a couple days after Round One had wrapped up. Both teams were riding high on recent seven-goal wins, so it was only a matter of time before the forces collided. It seemed like both clubs preferred to start sooner rather than later, dreading more downtime in the bubble.
Before the game started, lineups showed that Vladislav Namestnikov was back in the lineup after sitting a few games under concussion protocol, but Matt Calvert was a scratch. Calvert is a big part of the Avs’ bottom six forward group and provides a certain “sandpaper” that gives the team a lot of energy. He was even in a scrap with Stars captain Jamie Benn earlier this year.
Make sure you check out our series preview of the Avalanche vs Stars in the second round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs!
The Avs didn’t get off to the start that they wanted to with the Stars, as Dallas took control in the first few minutes. They had a plan to take Colorado’s strength out of the game, which is their great skating ability. The Stars dumped the puck in behind Philipp Grubauer and began to cycle, wearing out the Avalanche defenseman. After just four minutes, the Stars scored their first goal on a pass from behind the net from Benn to Tyler Seguin. Within a minute of the Stars’ first goal, Nathan MacKinnon answered back, striking on a wrist shot through some traffic that Dallas goaltender Anton Khudobin never saw.
— NHL (@NHL) August 23, 2020
Some bad new came in the middle of the period when Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson blocked a shot and fell awkwardly in front of the net. He made it back to his feet but opted to skate to the bench gingerly, knowing it wasn’t just a bruise. The Stars continued putting on pressure and the puck eventually found it way to the back of the Avs net on a redirected shot from Blake Comeau at the point.
But the Avs weren’t going away. MacKinnon made a nice pass to Gabriel Landeskog on what should’ve been the Avs’ 2nd goal of the game, but Khudobin made a great post-to-post save.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) August 23, 2020
The Avs didn’t look great the rest of the period as they continued to turn over the puck in the neutral zone and simply didn’t have an answer for Dallas’ offensive game. Within the final minutes of the first period, Samuel Girard dumped the puck in and chased it into the Dallas zone, which resulted in a Dallas odd-man rush. Benn found Alexander Radulov right in front of Grubauer, who then put the Stars up 3-1. The period ended with Colorado leading Dallas in shots 13-7, but Dallas seemed to have the advantage so far in all phases.
To start the second period, it was nice to see Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson back on the bench, who had left the game in the first due to an apparent leg injury. Unfortunately for the Avs, another player would leave the game in the second period. Going for a pad save, Grubauer looked to over-extend and went down in agonizing pain. Play stopped as he had to be helped off the ice, with Pavel Francouz coming on the ice in relief.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 23, 2020
The Avalanche looked like they got some extra motivation after Grubauer went down as they were skating hard and putting a lot of pressure on the defense. After a long shift in the Dallas zone, MacKinnon shot the puck from the point and the puck found Landeskog, who scored his first goal of the postseason.
— SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (@SiriusXMNHL) August 23, 2020
The goals continued to pour in, as it was Dallas’ turn. Seguin carried the puck through the Avs’ zone on a two-on-one and fired the puck low on Francouz. The rebound came to Radulov, who put home his second of the game, giving the Stars another two goal lead. Later in the period, Johnson took another spill and left to the tunnel again. And just before the end of the second period, both teams took minors and it was four-on-four for two minutes. The Avalanche got possession in the Dallas zone and MacKinnon redirected his second goal of the game off of a Girard shot.
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) August 23, 2020
It was back and forth action for the first ten minutes of the third period as the Avs tried to even the game at four. But it was Roope Hintz that broke the ice, giving the Stars a 5-3 lead. Dallas continued to cycle in the Avalanche zone, grinding away at the game clock. They finished all their checks and were always in on the forecheck.
In the final five minutes, the Avalanche pulled their goalie but the Stars held them until the final buzzer. The game ended with the Avalanche leading in shots 31-30.
Game two will be on Monday at 7:45 PM MT and, if the Avalanche want to even up the series, they will need to find another level. The Dallas Stars aren’t the Arizona Coyotes. They’ve shown that they can score seven goals in a game too, plus they play a heavy style game. If you’re Colorado, you have to watch the tape and see how you can come out and adjust. It’s clear the Stars are taking away the neutral zone from the Avs so they can’t penetrate on the rush. They Avs may also have to find a replacement for Erik Johnson if he’s unable to go for game two.