In a series where momentum shifts have shaped the outcome, timing is everything. Both were in Dallas’ favor in a thrilling win in Edmonton Sunday.
After scoring three straight in games two and three, and Colorado matching the feat in Wednesday’s game, the Stars ripped off three scores in the opening period on the way to a game four victory and a 3-1 series lead.
Dallas put on an all-around clinic in the first. It held Colorado without a shot on goal until 1:34 left in the first period. In that time, the Stars had already scored three goals- including two on the power play.
John Klingberg opened the scoring off a net-front scramble. Radek Faksa added his third of the postseason after struggling in the opening round. Jamie Benn also continued his hot streak with a tip-in.
Dallas’ penalty kill continued to thrive, stopping two of three Colorado power plays Dallas has allowed just eight power play goals on 46 attempts in the postseason. The Stars also drew Avalanche penalties at will, going 3-6 with the man advantage.
Colorado clawed back into the game with a much more aggressive approach in the second. After Dallas put the first ten shots on net of the contest, the Avs out-shot Dallas 37-19, and scored a pair of goals in the second.
Roope Hintz grabbed momentum for Dallas again with a methodical and well-timed wrister. Just seconds later, Colorado’s Cale Makar made an inexcusable mistake behind the net. The Calder Trophy finalist tried to make a pass off the boards while goalie Pavel Francouz had his back turned, and fellow rookie Denis Gurianov pounced for Dallas.
Cale Makar is human after all pic.twitter.com/0DKhzWHxGy
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) August 31, 2020
Valeri Nichuskin, who was drafted by Dallas tenth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, added a pair of goals for the Avalanche, including one to make it a 5-3 contest midway through the third. He scored just one postseason goal in his Stars career.
Francouz was pulled after Makar’s blunder in favor for Michael Hutchinson. The series has truly changed since starter Phillip Grubauer’s injury in game one. He played in each of the Avalanche’s five games against Arizona in the first round except for one- but hasn’t appeared since an apparent groin injury in the first period of last Saturday’s game.
Anton Khoudobin was strong again for Dallas in net, stopping 33 of 37 Colorado tries. Starter Ben Bishop hasn’t played since game two against Calgary Aug. 14, but the Stars haven’t suffered thanks to the strong play of their backup.
As a result of the NHL postponing games Thursday and Friday to promote social justice reform, the Stars will not have a day off between games four and five. Dallas will have a chance to clinch its first trip to the Western Conference Finals since 2008 tomorrow night at 8:45 central on NBC Sports.
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