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game recap

Nieto hat trick helps Avalanche end three-game losing streak

Landeskog has goal, assist for Colorado against Stars

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- Matt Nieto was eager to return to the Colorado Avalanche after being a healthy scratch for two consecutive games and five of the previous eight.

Nieto made the most of it by scoring his first three goals of the season to help the Avalanche (5-4-0) end a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 win against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

"It's awesome. It's definitely a hard thing to accomplish in this League, so I'll definitely remember this night," said Nieto, who completed his first NHL hat trick with an empty-net goal with 3.1 seconds remaining. "I was itching to get back. Unfortunately, I came back in because of injuries, but that's the name of the game. I just tried to prepare myself for the next chance I get in."


WATCH: All Stars vs. Avalanche highlights


The Nieto-Carl Soderberg-Blake Comeau line had eight points (three goals, five assists).

"Our best line all night, start to finish," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "I think there was a little added extra hunger. They skated hard, they played through people, kept their puck play simple and went to the hard areas to score some goals."

Video: DAL@COL: Nieto records his first career hat trick

Goalie Semyon Varlamov made 13 of his 34 saves in the third period when the Stars (5-4-0) outshot the Avalanche 14-7. The loss ended their four-game winning streak.

"This team needs to learn how to play the entire game," Varlamov said. "Every game I feel like we play two periods and then we're just giving up one period. We're all happy after the game, but we have to learn how to play a solid 60 minutes because we came out in the third period and just stopped playing."

The Stars closed to 4-3 at 10:12 of the third period when John Klingberg scored his third goal of the season, and they pressured the Avalanche the rest of the game.

"The first two periods were disappointing," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We were light on the puck, didn't play through people. We played awful slow, but we've seen it before and we're trying to get it resolved."

Defenseman Mark Barberio scored the third Avalanche goal of the second period, his first of the season, with 9.8 seconds left against goalie Kari Lehtonen for a 4-2 lead.

Hitchcock replaced Ben Bishop (14 saves) with Lehtonen (14 saves) after Gabriel Landeskog gave the Avalanche a 3-2 lead at 4:04 when he shot inside the right post for his third goal of the season.

Video: DAL@COL: Landeskog fights off defenders for goal

"It was time to make a change," Hitchcock said. "We were slow and dozy across the board, everybody, the whole team. We needed a wake-up call, so we got it. It has nothing to do with Ben. I'll do the same with any other goaltender. If I think it's going to help the team to change their mindset, I've got to do whatever it takes."

Nieto's second of the game put Colorado ahead 2-1 at 2:14 of the period, but Dallas tied it 2-2 at 2:44 on Brett Ritchie's first of the season.

Jamie Benn gave the Stars a 1-0 lead at 8:03 of the first period when his shot from the left circle hit Colorado defenseman Anton Lindholm's skate and caromed past Varlamov for his fifth goal.

The Avalanche tied it 1-1 on Nieto's first goal at 13:45. Landeskog took a shot that was deflected into the slot and Nieto put it past Bishop.


Goal of the game

Ritchie skated through the goalmouth and redirected Tyler Seguin's pass by Varlamov's glove.

Video: DAL@COL: Ritchie pots Seguin's incredible feed


Save of the game

Varlamov stretched his right pad to stop Dallas forward Devin Shore at 3:39 of the third period to keep Colorado's lead at 4-2. Shore skated through the slot after taking a pass from Alexander Radulov.


Highlight of the game

Comeau, who had three assists, stripped the puck from Bishop behind the net and passed to Soderberg in the slot. Bishop made it back to the crease for a save, but Nieto put in the rebound for his second goal.

Video: DAL@COL: Nieto backhands in goal out of midair


They said it

"There was no reason for me to come out. I guess that's the coach's decision, but it's a 3-2 hockey game with more than half the game left. I'm not very happy with the decision." -- Stars goalie Ben Bishop


"It was nice to contribute. I feel like the teams that are successful in this League have four lines that can roll. I think everyone won the matchups tonight, did a good job." -- Avalanche forward Blake Comeau


Need to know

Stars defenseman Stephen Johns sustained an upper-body injury at 12:09 of the first period. ... Avalanche center Matt Duchene had a second-period assist to give him 249 in his NHL career and move into 10th place in Colorado history.


What's next

Stars: At the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-SW+, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: At the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday (6 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, ATTSN-RM, ALT, NHL.TV)


Video: Nieto tallies first career hat trick in 5-3 victory

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