DENVER (AP) - The Dallas Stars' inability to close out a game has them teetering on elimination.
The Colorado Avalanche took a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven series Wednesday night when they beat the Stars in overtime for the second straight game. This time it was 4-3 on Alex Tanguay's game-winner.
Tanguay attempted a cross-ice pass to Ian Laperriere that went off Willie Mitchell's skate and into the net at 1:09 of overtime, marking the second time in 48 hours the Avs had beaten the Stars after tying the score with a goal late in the third period.
This time, Andrew Brunette tied it at 3 on the power play with less than a minute left in regulation.
"We got a few lucky bounces," Tanguay said. "We're very fortunate."
They're also one win away from sweeping the second-seeded Stars.
"It's the way it's been for us in the series. The bounces haven't gone our way," Dallas goaltender Marty Turco said. "We have to find a way to win Game 4" Friday night in Denver.
The Avalanche have had 3-0 leads in the playoffs twice before and swept both series.
Maybe desperation will shake the Stars from their doldrums, Turco said.
"It's going to be an effort that is unparalleled from what we've seen from our group. Our backs are against the wall. When teams are desperate and guys are desperate, guys seem to play well," he said.
"We're going to expect to win. Nothing has been handed to them yet."
Maybe not, but only two NHL teams have ever overcome a 3-0 playoff deficit and the Stars have never been able to rally from a 2-0 hole since the 1968 quarterfinals, when they were the Minnesota North Stars and came back to beat Los Angeles 4-3.
Tanguay's second goal of the game ruined a solid performance by Turco, who looked for most of the night like he was going to reward coach Dave Tippett's decision to stick with him in net.
Turco had surrendered 10 goals as the second-seeded Stars lost the first two games at home, but rather than replace him with Johan Hedberg, Tippett declared Turco was still his guy.
Turco stopped 25 shots but the two goals he surrendered at the end dropped him to 1-7 in the playoffs against the Avs, who have scored 32 times against him in the postseason.
Sergei Zubov's 5-on-3 goal from the right circle with 15 seconds left in the second period broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Stars their first lead of the night, which held up behind Dallas' spectacular defense until Brunette's power-play goal with 56 seconds left in the third period.
"I take responsibility," said Brenden Morrow, who was in the penalty box for Dallas, serving a two-minute penalty for tripping. "I saw how they were calling it tight the first two games. I should have known better by now. I let my teammates down."
Tanguay, Brett McLean and Laperriere converged on the goal in overtime for the game-winner.
"The goal at the end gave us some energy, and we got a fortunate break around the net," Avs coach Joel Quenneville said. "The games have been really close, two games in a row could have gone either way."
And Dallas' mistakes have tipped the games in Colorado's favor both times.
"We are just having brain cramps," Tippett said. "You can't take penalties in the last two minutes. ... It is a recipe for disaster, you aren't going to win that way. We are beating ourselves. All due credit to Colorado, they are playing well, but when you make the crucial mental errors, that's how you lose the game."
Stars defenseman Jon Klemm, a key member of Colorado's first Stanley Cup team, tied it at 2 midway through the second period when he took Antti Miettinen's pass from behind the net and slapped it past Jose Theodore from the slot. Zubov's go-ahead goal came with Tanguay and Milan Hejduk in the penalty box for hooking.
Sakic scored his 19th point in 22 career playoff games against the Stars when he rammed in the puck from right in front of the crease on a power play for a 1-0 lead after Turco had stopped a shot by Brett Clark.
Dallas tied it at 1 on a short-handed goal 5 minutes later when Stu Barnes broke free and beat Theodore over his left shoulder.
Tanguay's first goal came when he skated in front of Turco and deflected Hejduk's shot from the right circle into the net for a 2-1 Colorado lead with just over a minute left in the first period. The puck bounced off Tanguay's shoulder, then glanced off defenseman Janne Niinimaa and into the net.
"It was a tight game, Marty played really well for them," Sakic said. "It was a huge win obviously, to go up 3-0 against a team like that. Now we have to find a way to put it away.
"We don't want to give them any life."
Notes: Colorado improved to 46-14 in the playoffs when Sakic scores a goal and 72-26 when he records at least one point. ... Sakic's 80th playoff goal tied Claude Lemieux for eighth place on the career list.
|PPG - Joe Sakic (2) ASST: Brett Clark (1), Patrice Brisebois (1)|
1 - 0 COL
|SHG - Stu Barnes (1) ASST: Brenden Morrow (3)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Alex Tanguay (1) ASST: Milan Hejduk (4), Wojtek Wolski (3)|
2 - 1 COL
|Jon Klemm (1) ASST: Antti Miettinen (1), Brenden Morrow (4)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Sergei Zubov (1) ASST: Jussi Jokinen (1), Mike Modano (2)|
3 - 2 DAL
|PPG - Andrew Brunette (2) ASST: Alex Tanguay (1), John-Michael Liles (2)|
3 - 3 Tie
|1st OT Period|
|Alex Tanguay (2) ASST: Brett McLean (1), Ian Laperriere (1)|
4 - 3 COL
|Sergei Zubov Hooking against Wojtek Wolski|
|Janne Niinimaa Tripping against Wojtek Wolski|
|Joe Sakic Hooking against Willie Mitchell|
|Jason Arnott Interference against Dan Hinote|
|Kurt Sauer Tripping against Antti Miettinen|
|Antti Miettinen Interference against Kurt Sauer|
|Alex Tanguay Hooking against Jussi Jokinen|
|Milan Hejduk Hooking against Sergei Zubov|
|Janne Niinimaa Holding against Wojtek Wolski|
|Niklas Hagman Tripping against Brett Clark|
|Niko Kapanen Tripping against Joe Sakic|
|John-Michael Liles Holding against Bill Guerin|
|Brenden Morrow Tripping against Brett Clark|
|1st OT Period|