GAME: Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; Avalanche lead 3-1.
TIME: Saturday, 3 p.m. EDT.
Though Colorado has numerous experienced All-Stars, two players untested in
the postseason have helped the Avalanche get within one win of advancing to the
David Aebischer and Marek Svatos will try to help the Avalanche win Game 5
of this opening series and eliminate the Dallas Stars.
Aebischer, the backup to Patrick Roy the last three seasons, has played very
well against the Stars despite having just 35 minutes of postseason experience
entering this series.
He has a .933 save percentage through four games despite giving up four
goals in an overtime loss in Game 3. Aebischer bounced back from that defeat
with a strong performance Wednesday, making 41 saves as Colorado won 3-2 in
double overtime at Dallas to take a 3-1 series lead.
He blew a two-goal lead for the second straight game, but on Wednesday the
Stars' first goal came on a two-man advantage and the second changed directions
after hitting a defenseman's skate.
"He showed poise and confidence," Avs coach Tony Granato said. "They got
a good bounce on the second goal, but it didn't rattle him. His body language
was that nothing is getting past me. We were confident he'd stop anything."
Granato put Svatos on the playoff roster even though he appeared in just
four games during the regular season due to a shoulder injury, and that
decision has paid off.
The 21-year-old Svatos assisted on goals in each of the first two games of
this series, then scored the game-winner in the second overtime of Game 4.
"He has that breakaway speed and can make something out of nothing,"
Avalanche forward Steve Konowalchuk said. "You're kind of born with that.
That's his kind of game and he has that kind of poise. You don't teach that."
To extend this series, the Stars will try to avoid getting off to another
bad start. They've given up two first-period goals in each of the first four
games - something they did just five times during the regular season.
Dallas is looking to become the second team in as many years to make up a
3-1 series deficit against Colorado in the opening round. Minnesota did it last
season and went on to the Western conference finals.
"We're not dead yet," Dallas' Bill Guerin said. "Don't count us out."
However, the Stars have yet to win at the Pepsi Center this season. They
lost two games there during the regular season by a combined 7-1 score, and
lost 3-1 and 5-2 in the first two games of this series.
Dallas had a great chance to even this series in Game 4, outshooting
Colorado 41-23. The Stars feel if they can continue to generate good scoring
chances, they can still make this a series.
"I feel like we deserved a better fate," Dallas captain Mike Modano said
after Game 4. "We played a solid game. We had so many scoring opportunities
that we didn't take advantage of."
Modano is among the Stars' offensive standouts struggling in this series,
with just two points and a minus-3 rating.
While no Dallas player has scored more than one goal through four games,
Colorado has five - Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Alex Tanguay, Milan Hejduk and
Konowalchuck - with at least two.
The Stars also need a stronger effort from All-Star goalie Marty Turco, who
has been outplayed by Aebischer. Turco's 3.16 goals-against average in this
series is nearly double his total from the regular season.
"If I make the saves I should, we can be a lot better," he said. "I have
to stop the puck with a little better efficiency."
If the Stars win, the series will resume Sunday in Dallas.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Stars - 97 points, 5th seed. Avalanche - 100 points, 4th
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Stars - nine with 1 goal; Pierre Turgeon and Valeri
Bure, 3 assists; Turgeon, 4 points; Shayne Corson, 12 PIM. Avalanche - Sakic, 3
goals; Rob Blake, 5 assists; Sakic, Blake and Forsberg, 5 points; Blake, Adam
Foote and Matthew Barnaby, 6 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Stars - Power play: 21.1 percent (4 for 19). Penalty
killing: 72.2 percent (13 for 18). Avalanche - Power play: 27.8 percent (5 for
18). Penalty killing: 78.9 percent (15 for 19).
GOALTENDERS: Stars - Turco (1-3, 3.16 GAA); Ron Tugnutt (no appearances).
Avalanche - Aebischer (3-1, 2.02); Tommy Salo (no appearances).