In a fast and explosive game one, the Dallas Stars took a deserved win over the Colorado Avalanche. Both teams got goals from the first line and true superstars shined brightest. However, it was the Stars who got the depth scoring when it mattered. The game was overshadowed by a horrifying injury early in the second period.
Fast And Furious Start
A goal was inevitable at this point and after just four minutes, the Stars drew first blood with his first of the playoff. A mistake from Erik Johnson gave the Stars the puck behind the net. Jamie Benn found Tyler Seguin wide open in front of the net. With a quick shot, he beat Phillip Grubauer’s glove to give Dallas the lead.
This lead was short-lived, however, as Nathan Mackinnon showcased his talent. Picking up a pass from Gabriel Landeskog on the left side, he turned on the jets and took the puck to the blueline. With space he had gained, he unleashed a wonderful wrist shot past Anton Khudobin. Fast response from the Avalanche to the early mistake.
But anything the Avalanche could do, the Stars could do better. A few minutes after MacKinnon’s goal, the Stars retook the lead. After an awkward collision in front of the net, Johnson skated off the ice, giving the Stars a minor man advantage. With the confusion from the Avalanche, it gave Blake Comeau space to shoot from the point. On route to the net, it took a heavy deflection and went into the net.
Avalanche Pressure, Stars Doubles Up
The Avalanche once again had an energetic response to the Stars lead. First with chances to both Tyson Jost and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. None had a bigger chance to tie the game than Landeskog. After a great cross-ice pass from MacKinnon, Landeskog had a wide-open net. However, Khudobin got across and committed highway robbery on the Swedish captain with a stunning save.
In the middle of the Avalanche pressure, it was the Stars who managed to double their lead. After a clear from Radek Faksa, it was Benn who found space on the left side. With another beautiful pass, he found a streaking Alexander Radulov for a partial break. A swift and great move on the backhand he put the puck past the legs of Grubauer for a 3-1 lead to the Stars. A lead they would bring into intermission.
The Avalanche might have hoped to get out to the second with fire and fury, but a tripping minor by Nazem Kadri hampered that idea early on. While the Stars didn’t score on the man advantage, it ended up being devastating for the Avalanche. With ten seconds left of the powerplay, Grubauer went down in severe pain after a pad stop. An awful looking injury and in his place came Pavel Francouz.
Things did get better for the Avalanche the next minute when Landeskog cut the lead in half. Cale Makar hit the bar, and on the following chaos, a loose puck ended on the captain’s stick. From here he just about was able to jam the puck into the net.
The one-goal lead didn’t last long, as only 5 minutes later, the Stars retook the two-goal lead. Since the goal, the Stars had been the better team and therefore it wasn’t unjust when Radulov scored his second of the night. On a 2 on 1 with Seguin, Radulov was able to easily put away a juicy rebound to bring the Stars back up by two goals.
Once again a goal seemed to spark the opposite team, as this time it was the Avalanche who almost instantly took control of the game. Creating chances and pressuring the Stars but unable to get past Khudobin.
Near the end of the period both teams took a minor and on the 4 on 4, the Avalanche finally got rewarded. And who else but MacKinnon, who deflected a shot from Samuel Girard into the net. Another great goal for MacKinnon who was the Avalanche best player had given hope for a comeback heading into the third period.
Third Period Dagger
After the two first periods had both been highly explosive and fast pace, people can be forgiven for expecting the same of the third period. Especially with the Avalanche looking for the tying goal. However what happened was a more slow and tactical start to the period. The Stars played great defensively and not allowing great chances while looking for the counter attack.
Six minutes into the period, the Avalanche finally got a shot off and a greater chance. Former Dallas Star Valeri Nichushkin found Jost in the middle of the slot. With a quick shot, it was only a great stop by Khudobin that prevented a goal.
But best as the Avalanche was piling on the pressure, Roope Hintz doubled the lead. John Klingberg absorbed a hit and got the puck to Jason Dickinson. He found Hintz who fired a bullet past Francouz. A dagger into the heart of the Avalanche, who truly found themselves in trouble with just ten minutes to go.
Trouble that they weren’t able to get away from despite creating a few chances late, the Stars took the win in game one. What’s more worrying is the health of Erik Johnson and starting goaltender Phillip Grubauer. Both players the Avalanche desperately will need back to turn the series around.
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