NHL Hockey

Stars expect tough time closing out Avalanche

The Dallas Stars seem to subscribe to the theory that the fourth victory in a playoff series is the hardest to get.

They'll have three chances to do so, beginning Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Stars took a 3-1 advantage in their Western Conference second-round series with a 5-4 victory Sunday in Edmonton, Alberta. Radek Faksa had a goal and two assists for the Stars.

"We're a confident group and (Game 5) is going to be the hardest game," said Stars defenseman John Klingberg, who had a goal and an assist. "It always is when you can close out a series. We expect Colorado to be even better (Monday)."

In their first-round series against Calgary, the Stars fell behind by three goals just 6:34 into Game 6 before rallying for a clinching 7-3 victory.

"We're keeping our composure," Stars forward Jamie Benn said. "We know how hard that Game 6 was against Calgary. Obviously, we didn't get off to a good start at all. We'll sit on this one for a couple hours and then move on and get right back at it (Monday)."

The Stars took a 3-0 lead Sunday in the opening 10:45, including two power-play goals, before the Avalanche could even get a shot on net.

Colorado pulled within 3-2 before Dallas' Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov scored 32 seconds apart early in the third period to restore the three-goal advantage. It was Gurianov's eighth goal of the playoffs, tying the league high.

"They came out hard and earned their bounces. All of a sudden we're down 3-0," said Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, who extended his points streak to 12 games. "We got better, I felt, as the game wore on. ... We had a push earlier in the third to (try and) tie it up. Obviously getting down in a hole early didn't help us."

Colorado's Valeri Nichushkin scored his second goal of the game at 11:24 of the third and Vladislav Namestnikov tallied with four seconds left in regulation, but by that time it was too late.

"The game was a little bit closer than what the score was for part of it, we just gave them too many opportunities to capitalize," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "We've got to be better. It's a defensive improvement we have to make."

Bednar pulled goaltender Pavel Francouz, playing for the injured Philipp Grubauer, after Dallas scored its fifth goal with 11:58 remaining. Michael Hutchinson made his playoff debut and stopped all three shots he faced.

Dallas, which scored the fewest regular-season goals (180) of any Western Conference team to make the playoffs, has 19 through the first four games of this series.

"It just seems like when one team gets one goal, it kind of gives them a boost," Benn said. "I'm not sure why it's going back and forth like this, but it is. And you've just got to handle the momentum as it comes."

--Field Level Media

Updated September 2, 2020

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