COL DAL series preview Tonight bug

The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs features eight teams in four best-of-7 series, which started Sunday. Today, previews the Western Conference Second Round between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.

(1C) Dallas Stars vs. (3C) Colorado Avalanche

Stars: 52-21-9, 113 points; defeated Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in the first round

Avalanche: 50-25-7, 107 points; defeated Winnipeg Jets 4-1 in the first round

Season series: DAL: 1-2-1, COL: 3-1-0

Game 1: Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, SN360, SN, TVAS)

The Dallas Stars will play the Colorado Avalanche for the sixth time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they face off in the Western Conference Second Round.

The last postseason meeting between the Stars and Avalanche was the 2020 second round, won by Dallas in seven games en route to the Stanley Cup Final, a six-game loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After losing their first two games at home, the Stars defeated the Golden Knights in four of the next five, including 2-1 in Game 7. It was a reversal of last year when Vegas eliminated Dallas from the Western Conference Final in six games and went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The Stars don't have much time to rest before the second round begins, but they're prepared.

"We've got a plan and at least we're starting at home," coach Pete DeBoer said. "We've earned the right to have home-ice advantage. I think it would've been tougher had we had to travel to Colorado (on Monday) to start on the road.

"I think that home ice and getting the first seed in the conference is going to be helpful, but it's going to be a quick turnaround. We're probably going to struggle with some fatigue at different points, but we have some depth, and we'll see how it goes.

The Avalanche lost Game 1 to the Jets before winning the next four to advance. They feel much better about where they are compared to last year, when they lost the first round in seven games to the Seattle Kraken.

Coach Jared Bednar credited the Avalanche's acquisitions prior to the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline as one reason. They got center Casey Mittelstadt from the Buffalo Sabres, defenseman Sean Walker from the Philadelphia Flyers, and forwards Brandon Duhaime from the Minnesota Wild and Yakov Trenin from the Nashville Predators.

"The additions at the Deadline rejuvenated our team because we filled some needs that we had and made our team stronger depth wise," Bednar said. "The defensive aspect of the games, some size and strength things. Once that happened at the Deadline, our team was really focused on opportunity ahead of us and they did a nice job getting ready to play for Round One. I'm not so sure it was in last year's playoffs, though."

Game breakers

Stars: Wyatt Johnston continues to build off an impressive second season in the NHL (65 points; 32 goals, 33 assists in 82 games). The forward plays like a veteran and comes up in big moments, including the overtime goal in a 3-2 win in Game 3 against the Golden Knights and the opening goal in Game 7. Johnston led the Stars through the first round with seven points (four goals, three assists) in seven games.

Avalanche: You have to go with Nathan MacKinnon again. Though other players scored more goals in the first round, MacKinnon is still the one who opponents want and need to shut down the most. He had nine points (two goals, seven assists) against the Jets, tied for the Avalanche lead with linemate Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Cale Makar, each of whom also had two goals and seven assists.


Stars: Jake Oettinger was solid in a tight first-round series, going 4-3 with a 1.95 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. The Stars went 16-4 in their final 20 regular-season games, when Oettinger was 13-3-0 with a 2.26 GAA, .913 save percentage and two shutouts in 16 starts. He returned to form as the regular season ended and he's carried that over to the postseason.

Avalanche: Alexandar Georgiev had a forgettable start to the playoffs, but it's how you finish, right? He rebounded from a 7-6 loss in Game 1 to win his next four, is 4-1 with a 3.03 GAA and .900 save percentage and didn't allow more than three goals in a game after the opener. Backup Justus Annunen is healthy again after missing the first two games with an illness.

Numbers to know

Stars: Joe Pavelski (8-3) and DeBoer (8-0) both matched the NHL record for career Game 7 wins shared by six skaters (Brad Richards, 8-0; Ray Bourque, 8-1; Justin Williams, 8-1; Carl Hagelin, 8-2; Ryan McDonagh, 8-2; and Glenn Anderson, 8-4) and one coach (Darryl Sutter, 8-3).

Avalanche: They are the fourth team in NHL history to score at least five goals in each of their first five games of the playoffs. The 1985 Chicago Blackhawks (seven) and 1994 New York Rangers (six) are the only teams with a longer run.


Stars: Logan Stankoven was held to two assists in the first round but had a crucial game-tying assist in the first period of Game 5, 1:02 after Vegas took a 1-0 lead. The 21-year-old could be a key secondary scorer against the Avalanche whether he plays center or wing. Stankoven ranked second among NHL rookies who played at least 12 regular-season games with 0.58 points per game (14 in 24 games), behind Blackhawks forward Connor Bedard (0.90), and had two points (one goal, one assist) and four shots on goal in two games against Colorado. -- Pete Jensen

Avalanche: Artturi Lehkonen scored in all five games against the Jets and ranks second on Colorado in goals behind Valeri Nichushkin (seven). He's also tied with Mittelstadt for the fourth-most even-strength points (six) in the playoffs and is second on the Avalanche behind Rantanen (seven). Lehkonen is consistently a solid playoff performer; he had six points (three goals, three assists) in seven games last postseason and 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 20 games when the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2022. He's a big part of the top power-play unit with high-scoring skaters MacKinnon, Rantanen, Nichushkin and Makar. -- Anna Dua

They said it

"I mean, if those were the five best in the season, our next five are going to have to be even better. That's the way the playoffs go. You have to keep getting better and better each round. For us, it's definitely going to have to happen but in terms of the break, you can look at it both ways. But you have to stay ready as a group and make sure we practice and do the right things." -- Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar

"I think it's going to be a totally different style of hockey. We felt like we played well against them in the regular season. Obviously that last game of the year we played them, we felt like we played a great game against them. We should feel confident in what we just did. We showed we can play that way or more of an up-tempo game, (which) I'm guessing we'll be getting from (the Avalanche). A couple of adjustments and let's roll." -- Stars goalie Jake Oettinger

Will win if ...

Stars: They remain stingy on defense. Outside of Game 1, when the Golden Knights scored four goals, the Stars held them to three or fewer in the next six games, not easy to do against the defending Stanley Cup champions. They're allowing 2.29 goals per game (fifth in the playoffs) and will need that same type of defense against the Avalanche, who lead the postseason with 5.60 goals per game.

Avalanche: They keep the balanced scoring going. Colorado got contributions across the board and not just from their top line of Nichushkin, MacKinnon and Rantanen. Six players have at least six points. You need depth scoring at this time of year, and it paid off for the Avalanche in the first round. It's something they'll need to continue if they're going to keep advancing.

How they look

Stars projected lineup

Jason Robertson -- Roope Hintz -- Wyatt Johnston

Jamie Benn -- Matt Duchene -- Logan Stankoven

Evgenii Dadonov -- Tyler Seguin -- Joe Pavelski

Craig Smith -- Radek Faksa -- Sam Steel

Thomas Harley -- Miro Heiskanen

Esa Lindell -- Chris Tanev

Ryan Suter -- Nils Lundkvist

Jake Oettinger

Scott Wedgewood

Scratched: Ty Dellandrea

Injured: Jani Hakanpaa (lower body), Mason Marchment (undisclosed)

Avalanche projected lineup

Valeri Nichushkin -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Artturi Lehkonen -- Casey Mittelstadt -- Zach Parise

Miles Wood -- Ross Colton -- Nikolai Kovalenko

Brandon Duhaime -- Yakov Trenin -- Andrew Cogliano

Devon Toews -- Cale Makar

Samuel Girard -- Josh Manson

Jack Johnson -- Sean Walker

Alexandar Georgiev

Justus Annunen

Scratched: Arvid Holm, Caleb Jones, Chris Wagner

Injured: Jonathan Drouin (lower body), Joel Kiviranta (lower body) independent correspondent Ryan Boulding contributed to this report