It took until warmups to find out who would be starting in the net for the Stars. The secrecy from head coach Rick Bowness was mostly due to a questionable choice to start Ben Bishop in game five. Tonight, it was Anton Khudobin getting the start back between the pipes he’d guarded so well.
It was a story told mostly on the penalty kill for the Dallas Stars. The Stars would spend six minutes locked in the penalty box in the first period. However, despite this unfavorable start, the Stars would strike first. Miro Heiskanen did what he did best when he bolted up the ice to join the sudden offensive rush. Taking a drop from Mattias Janmark, Miro threw a wrist shot off the right bad of Hutchinson for a goal that probably should have been stopped. It was Heiskanen’s fifth goal and 19th point of the playoffs. Only trailing Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen (20) and Nathan Mackinnon (25). With his two points Wednesday night, Mackinnon became the first NHLer to reach 25 points in 14 or fewer games of a post-season since Wayne Gretzky did it in 1993 for the Los Angeles Kings. Pretty tough competition.
The Stars lead would not lost long. With just :31 seconds remaining in the period, Nikita Zadorov would fling a low puck towards the net that would beat Dobby on the short side. A plea for goalie interference was quickly silenced once the replay showed Jamie Oleksiak responsible for the collision.
In the second, the Stars would fall victim to yet another odd-man situation in the beginning of the period. They would kill it, but it would be the Avs who take the lead after Cale Makar scored a goal that was knocked down on its way to Dobby.
The Stars would produce a few threatening scoring chances but would come up empty handed. They would need two in the third or face a game seven.
It wouldn’t taken long the third before Nathan Mackinnon and company added some insurance. Rantanen, off a delicious saucer feed from Mackinnon, would send home a well-timed snap shot home. This level of skill reminded us who exactly the Stars are up against. This kid is a superstar.
The rest of the third period would resemble the second. Some decent chances but nothing convincing. The top line for the Stars – Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov, were noticeably quiet. Mackinnon would secure an empty net goal to grab his Gretzky record and the Stars would head onto game seven.
The momentum of the series has undoubtably shifted in Colorado’s favor. Dallas will need to dig extremely deep or face what all professional sports teams fear the most – a blown 3-1 lead.
Game seven is Friday. The time is TBD. Game seven. Stress levels through the roof.
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