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Avalanche rally, top Stars in shootout

by Steve Hunt /

DALLAS -- The Colorado Avalanche have the Dallas Stars figured out this season.

Colorado completed a sweep of its five-game season series with Dallas by rallying for a 5-4 shootout victory at American Airlines Center on Friday. The Avalanche overcame third-period deficits of 3-1 and 4-3, then got the win when Ryan O'Reilly scored the lone goal in the tiebreaker.

"Tonight was a good comeback," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "I think we can build on that third period. It's nice to be Mr. Positive, but sometimes you need to win hockey games and that's what we did tonight without being perfect after 40 minutes. That's the reason why we play 60 minutes. We had 20 to redeem ourselves and that's what the guys did."

O'Reilly, Colorado's first shooter, beat Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen with a backhand to his glove side. All three Dallas shooters, Jason Spezza, Jamie Benn and Vernon Fiddler, failed to beat Semyon Varlamov, who ended the game by knocking away Fiddler's backhand.

"It's been a while since I've scored in that (the shootout)," O'Reilly said. "[Matt Duchene] gave me a little advice on what to do there. It was a great call by him. I just went down and luckily for me it went in."

Tyson Barrie and Nate Guenin each had a goal and two assists for Colorado. Varlamov made 32 saves in regulation and overtime. Jarome Iginla and Gabriel Landeskog also scored for the Avalanche (27-24-11).

Cody Eakin scored two goals for the Stars (27-25-10), who also got goals from Spezza and Antoine Roussel.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff felt one reason Dallas saw its losing streak reach five games was a poor performance from Lehtonen, who allowed five goals on 23 shots.

"There's one thing I see, and I know this is hard, but the goaltending performance doesn't match the effort of the team," Ruff said. "You need goaltending. It's as simple as that. There's nights that he has to steal games, there's nights where he has to outperform the other guy. Our goaltending has been tough on our team, and I think that's where the frustration is."

Lehtonen, who was making his first start since allowing seven in a 7-6 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 21, felt he was properly prepared after not playing in a 4-2 loss at the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday because of an undisclosed medical issue.

"Percentages are kind of funny sometimes," Lehtonen said. "I felt good and felt ready to play a hockey game."

The Stars opened the scoring 3:43 into the second period when Eakin slapped a rolling puck past Varlamov. Eakin received the puck after a pass by Ryan Garbutt deflected off the skate of Colorado's John Mitchell.

Garbutt had a chance to make it 2-0 on a breakaway at 6:18 but Varlamov denied him with a stick save.

Instead, Colorado tied it at 9:55 when Barrie scored his 10th of the season with a wrist shot from the right point that sailed under Lehtonen's glove. But Spezza put Dallas back in front at 10:24 when he knocked a rebound past Varlamov for his 15th of the season. Varlamov made a pad save on Erik Cole's shot, but Spezza got to the rebound and beat Varlamov top shelf to the far side.

"I'm at a little bit of a loss for words," Spezza said of the loss. "We battle. We do such a good job for 40 minutes. We get a two-goal lead, and then we don't do a good enough job of clearing them away in front of the net. It's a different thing every night, though. Too many two-goal leads in the third period to lose as many as we have. If you win half those, we're in a way better position. It should never happen to a team."

Dallas outshot Colorado 16-3 in the second period.

Eakin made it 3-1 at 3:05 of the third with an unassisted goal, beating Varlamov high on the glove side with a well-placed wrist shot from the left circle.

But the Avalanche tied it with two goals in a span of 75 seconds. Iginla redirected a wrist shot by Guenin past Lehtonen at 5:43 for his 19th goal of the season. Guenin tied it at 6:58 when his wrist shot from the left circle deflected in off Lehtonen's pads. The goal, Guenin's second of the season, stood after a video review determined Lehtonen had not kept the rolling puck from crossing the goal line.

"The first two periods were not acceptable and in between periods we had a little talk," Guenin said. "That's not good enough. But that's one thing with our team, we don't quit. [Varlamov] kept us in that game and we kept battling back."

The Stars regained the lead at 11:02 when Roussel scored his 12th of the season. His wrist shot from the slot deflected off Varlamov's left pad and trickled over the line.

Colorado answered again at 13:17 when Landeskog got his stick on Barrie's wrist shot from near the blue line and deflected it off the crossbar and in for his 16th goal of the season.

"We played 40 minutes of pretty good hockey so many times this year, and then we just stop playing in the third period and we let teams come back in the game," Benn said. "We've got to learn to win in this League. We've got to learn how to win on this team, and you can put that on the leadership of myself."

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