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Stastny ends drought, leads Avalanche past Stars

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Paul Stastny emphatically ended a nine-game scoring drought Monday night.

Stastny scored twice in the second period and chipped in with two assists to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-2 win against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center.

After going nine games without a point, Stastny had three in the second period when the Avalanche scored four times to build a 5-1 lead.

"I always put pressure on myself," he said. "If anything, I was more frustrated, whether I showed it or not. No one will see it, but inside it's frustrating. That's how it is. It's a long season and you just have to keep battling through it. Not everything is going to go your way. Some games you don't play well and you get points, some games you play well and you deserve something and you don't get anything."

Andre Benoit, who went 10 games without a point and Erik Johnson, who went 21 games without a goal and five without a point, also scored in the second.

The Stars and Avalanche traded third-period goals. Tyler Seguin scored his 18th at 3:26 for Dallas and Tyson Barrie registered his first of the season in 18 games at 15:16.

"That was pretty much us laying an egg," Stars forward Jamie Benn said. "They came out strong and jumped all over us. They're a good team and they've got four pretty good lines. They just keep coming at you and we couldn't find a way to stop it."

The Avalanche, who play in Dallas on Tuesday, are in third place in the Central Division with 45 points, two more than the Minnesota Wild, who have played three more games. The Stars are fifth with 35 points.

"It's a big game any time you play home and home," Stastny said. "You want to get that first win. Getting back on the winning track is big."

Offense had been a problem for the Avalanche until they broke through against the Stars with a season-high 48 shots. They totaled 12 goals in the previous six games and were held to one goal in three of them.

"The door opened for us," said PA Parenteau, who tied his career high for assists with three. "It's good for our confidence, good for everyone. It was a big team win and nice to get the offense going like that. We were on the puck the last few games and couldn't get it done. The confidence was low for a few guys who couldn't get on the board. It's tough on you. You're playing decent hockey and you're not getting rewarded. Tonight a lot of guys did and it's fun to see."

Stastny broke a 1-1 tie at 8:29 of the second period when he tipped in Maxime Talbot's shot through traffic and Benoit scored from near the top of the left circle at 13:42 with a shot that eluded goalie Kari Lehtonen to the stick side.

Three minutes earlier, Lehtonen robbed Nathan MacKinnon's backhanded shot on a clean breakaway.

Stastny scored again at 16:33. Gabriel Landeskog took a shot from just inside the blue line and Stastny deflected it in while being checked by Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon.

"He was in the paint both times," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "This is where you have to be. When we're talking about scoring different ways, if you don't score shooting in the slot area or coming down the wing, you have to be somewhere else and that's what we did. We showed great urgency around their net. We really wanted to put the puck behind their goalie. I certainly think it's going to help our confidence."

Johnson scored his third goal of the season and first since Oct. 25 with a shot from the right point that slipped under Lehtonen's right leg with three seconds to play.

The Avalanche outshot the Stars 21-10 in the first period, but they headed to intermission in a 1-1 tie.

MacKinnon put the Avalanche in front 1-0 at 10:38 with his seventh goal and first in five games. He accepted a drop pass from Matt Duchene, skated down the left side and beat Lehtonen to the far corner. The goal gave MacKinnon 19 points, second among NHL rookies behind San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, who has 24 points.

The Stars tied the game with 32.8 seconds left in the period when rookie Kevin Connauton, playing in his seventh NHL game, scored his first goal while each team was shy a skater. Connauton drove to the net to tip Seguin's pass behind Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov.

"The excitement of the goal wore off pretty quick in the second period and we handed them some easy chances," Connauton said. "They’ve got so much skill up front, if you're going to give them looks like that they're going to bury them."

Varlamov made two big saves moments later while the Stars were on a power play. He stopped Alex Goligoski skating in alone and scrambled to his left to smother Seguin's stab at the rebound.

The Avalanche went 0-for-5 on the power play despite 14 shots, including two 5-on-3 advantages, and have gone 31 in a row without a goal in the past 11 games.

"You know what? The power play was really good tonight," Roy said. "We had a lot of shots and that's what we ask. Eventually it's going to go in. We didn't need the power play tonight, but we had urgency and I was very happy with it."

The Stars went 0-for-5 with the man advantage. They are in a 2-for-23 slump in five games.

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