RECAP: Avalanche score five goals in first period, extend series against Stars


It was clear going into Game 5 that the Colorado Avalanche knew the subsequent sixty minutes of hockey would be a fight against elimination. Struggling with an injured team, Coach Jared Bednar pulled multiple Colorado Eagles players into his lineup and counted on them to perform well in a decisive moment of Colorado hockey. The Avalanche proceeded to score five goals in the first period and one in the second to beat the Dallas Stars 6–3 and extend their playoff race.

Defenseman Erik Johnson and left winger Matt Calvert remained unfit to play and were replaced in Colorado’s lineup by Colorado Eagles players Conor Timmins and Logan O’Connor. Both goaltenders Philip Grubauer and Pavel Francouz were also missing tonight for the Avalanche, the former having sustained a groin injury and the latter currently unfit to play per Coach Jared Bednar. In place of Francouz, Michael Hutchinson started in net for the Avalanche, with fellow Eagle Hunter Miska available as backup netminder.

Dallas also made an unexpected goaltending decision prior to the game, starting Ben Bishop in net over Anton Khudobin.

Period One

At just 4:37 into the period, Pierre Bellemare opened the scoring for Colorado on a breakaway pass across the slot from Logon O’Connor, who collected his first NHL playoff point on the assist. Shortly after, the Avalanche went on their first power play of the game when Stars’ winger Alexander Radulov was called for hooking. As they had in previous games, Dallas blocked multiple shots and left Colorado scoreless when playing with the man advantage. The Avalanche, however, quickly demonstrated that scoring goals does not require an extra man on the ice when halfway through the period, Andre Burakovsky picked up a rebound off of a shot from Cale Makar that gave the Avalanche a 2–0 lead.

In the three minutes that followed, Colorado scored three more even-strength goals. The first was from Nathan MacKinnon, who received a pass from JT Compher and clapped the puck into the back of the net from high in the slot. The goal extends MacKinnon’s playoff point streak to thirteen games and places him fourth in line for the longest point streak to begin the NHL playoffs, behind only Bryan Trottier, Mark Messier, and Bobby Orr.

The next goal came from Nazem Kadri, who continued in Game 5 to fight for goals and pick up loose rebounds. He grabbed a bouncing puck on what should have been a save by Stars goaltender Ben Bishop, and after putting Colorado up 4–0, the Stars replaced Bishop with Khudobin. A net change did not appear to be what Dallas needed, however, because less than a minute later, Mikko Rantanen deflected the puck into the net after a drive and backhand shot by defenseman Samuel Girard. The Avalanche ended the period up 5–0, and two late penalties meant they would begin the second period playing with a 5–3 man advantage. The period also ended with Colorado up 23–5 in shots on goal.

Period Two

The ability to carry their momentum from one period into the next was something the Avalanche had struggled with in previous games against the Dallas Stars, and while period two did not result in five unanswered Colorado goals, the Avalanche nonetheless maintained their lead. Dallas killed Colorado’s power play for a second time and proceeded to score on a goal from Joe Pavelski at 7:50 into the period. The team appeared to gain some momentum, taking the fight to Colorado’s defense, drawing penalties, and attacking the net. The second period saw eight total penalties from both teams, the Avalanche taking two for unsportsmanlike conduct from both Kadri and Girard.

After a second Stars goal by Miro Heiskanen on the power play, it seemed like Dallas was building the kind of momentum that had enabled previous multi-goal comebacks against Colorado. Bednar’s decision to place Burakovsky on the top line with MacKinnon and Rantanen, however, proved beneficial for a second time tonight when MacKinnon dished the puck to Burakovsky on the right faceoff circle, whose one-timer kept the Avalanche ahead of the Stars and ended the period with a 6–2 Colorado lead.

Despite six power play opportunities, all of Colorado’s goals in the first and second periods were scored at even strength.

Period Three

The final period continued to see numerous penalties from both sides. Both Blake Comeau and Pavelski left the ice early with ten-minute misconduct penalties, and on a five-on-four Dallas power play with 5:48 left in the third, Jamie Benn scored a goal to cut Colorado’s lead in half. Dallas then pulled their goaltender to no avail, and the Avalanche beat the Stars 6–3, sidestepping elimination and continuing their race for the Stanley Cup. Colorado’s defense blocked 24 shots, and goaltender Michael Hutchinson saved 31 of the 34 shots he faced.

What’s Next

The Avalanche look to tie the seven-game series against Dallas in Game 6 on Wednesday, September 2nd. The Avalanche will need to limit their penalties in Game 6 and focus on taking advantage of their own power-play opportunities. A loss in Game 6 would mean elimination for Colorado, so fans should expect the players to take to the ice Wednesday with the same urgency as they did today.

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