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Landeskog leads rally, Avalanche top Stars

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Gabriel Landeskog had two goals and two assists, and the Colorado Avalanche rallied for five consecutive goals Saturday to defeat the Dallas Stars 6-3 at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche's first win came two nights after they allowed four third-period goals in a season-opening 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

"We were hungry after last game," said Landeskog, whose four points were an NHL personal best. "We were disappointed after the home opener. We wanted to bounce back here tonight and we did in a good way. It's huge to bounce right back like we did confidence-wise for our team to know that we have a strong group in here."

The Avalanche have beaten the Stars seven consecutive times and are 10-1-0 against Dallas in their past 11 games. Goalie Semyon Varlamov (30 saves) has won nine straight starts against the Stars.

The Stars seemed to be in good shape when Cody Eakin scored a power-play goal, his second goal of the game, for a 3-1 lead at 8:50 of the second period.

"We knew we definitely have enough skill and grit in this room to turn around a two-goal deficit," Landeskog said. "We were up three goals last game with about 10 minutes to go, and we were down two [Saturday] with about half the game left so there was a lot of hockey to be played."

The Avalanche tied the game 3-3 on power-play goals by Erik Johnson and Jarome Iginla 2:58 apart late in the second period.

Johnson cashed in Carl Soderberg's pass with a shot from just inside the blue line at 14:53 after Stars goalie Antti Niemi was called for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass. Iginla tied the game at 17:51 after the Stars were penalized for having too many men on the ice. Landeskog slipped the puck to Iginla in front for his 591st NHL goal.

The Avalanche have four goals on six power-play chances in their first two games. They were 29th in the NHL on the power play last season.

"It was a good one-timer, the first one," said Niemi, who made 19 saves. "The second one, it was just a nice pass to an open space in front. We've got to be sharp in these situations. We gave up a lead. We've got to be better."

John Mitchell and Landeskog scored 58 seconds apart early in the third period to give the Avalanche a 5-3 lead.

Mitchell, centering the fourth line with Cody McLeod and Jack Skille, scored from the slot at 8:11 to give the Avalanche their first lead of the game.

"Those guys were just mucking it up behind the net," Mitchell said. "Skille had a great drive down the wing and he took a bump, but he stuck with it and grabbed the puck behind the net. I wanted to make sure I was kind of staying in that low slot area, close to the net but not to close. They found a way to get the puck out to me and I just had to shoot as quick as I could. There were a lot of guys around me and not much time."

Alex Tanguay passed to Landeskog at the left point for a shot that beat Niemi to the short side at 8:58. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin picked up his second assist of the game and fifth of the season on the play.

"Our power play did a good job swinging the momentum our way and we just fed off it," said Landeskog, who closed out the scoring at 17:34.

Dallas coach Lindy Ruff wasn't happy to see his team come up empty after leading by two goals.

"We lost too many battles," Ruff said. "Our battles were just [poor]. It's really disappointing, it's embarrassing, worse than disappointing. Our best players have to be our best players.

"We're playing pretty well until we had a couple of mistakes on our penalty killing. Still, it's a 3-3 game with 20 minutes left. They got to pucks a little quicker than we did, they won the battles. Their best players were their best players and ours weren't."

The Stars scored 20 seconds into the game and took a 2-1 lead in the first period on goals by rookie Mattias Janmark and Eakin.

Janmark, 22, took a pass from Demers, skated down the slot and put a backhander behind Varlamov on the first shot of the game.

The Avalanche tied the game on Nathan MacKinnon's goal at 9:06. Tanguay got to a loose puck and passed to MacKinnon, who skated in on Niemi and chipped the puck over his right pad.

The Stars answered with Eakin's first goal at 10:21. Varlamov made a pad save on a shot by Tyler Seguin, but Eakin put in the rebound.

"When you look at what happened in the third period against Minnesota, any team would be affected at the start of the [next] game," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "In the end, you need to see if you have character, and that's what our guys did."

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