The Dallas Stars had the best road record in the NHL this season.

The Colorado Avalanche had the best home record.

The two longtime rivals are tied at 1-1 in a best-of-seven playoff series with the next two games to be played in Denver.

What could be better?

“We’ve been the best team on the road all year, including the playoffs. And they’re a great home team, so it should be a great matchup,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “It’s not an easy task, but we’re in a better spot than we were in Round One.”

The Stars lost both games at home to Vegas in the First Round, but followed it with wins in Games 3 and 4 on the road. Dallas earned a split at home to start the Second Round against the Avalanche, including a 5-3 win on Thursday. At the very least, the Stars have put the pressure on Colorado and can use that to their advantage. Of course, the reality is that the Avalanche posted a 31-9-1 record at Ball Arena and Nathan MacKinnon had a 35-game home point streak to open the season.

“It should make for some great games,” said forward Tyler Seguin. “It’s a challenge how good they are on their home ice. MacKinnon and the streaks he’s had this year, there’s a lot of challenges there.”

Seguin talks about heading to Colorado tied 1-1.

Colorado is obviously one of the best teams in the league, but it also has the advantage of being a mile high and being accustomed to the altitude. Teams that come into Denver have to adjust. The Avalanche players just see it as another game. So does that make a difference when you step on the ice?

“It just hits you the first couple of shifts and then it’s just normal, for me at least,” said forward Mason Marchment.

While Seguin added, “I think the trick is go as hard as you can at the first and get used to it.”

Forward Jason Robertson said strategy can be a great counterbalance to any possible fatigue.

Jason Robertson speaks to the media after Game 2

“You need to keep the shifts short and keep it simple,” Robertson said. “You don’t really feel it, but obviously, it’s there.”

That road strategy is good advice in any arena, and it works particularly well against the Avalanche. The highest scoring team in both regular season and the playoffs, Colorado wants to get moving, keep the puck in your end and force mistakes. The best way to avoid that is to put the puck in safe places, keep your energy high, and overwhelm them with a frenetic counterattack. Dallas did that in building 3-0 and 4-0 leads in Games 1 and 2, but then stumbled at home when it laid back too much and didn’t keep its foot on the gas. So now it has to find the right balance between playing smart and pushing hard.

Robertson said the team takes care of the details of the game.

“I think guys are composed,” he said. “We trust each other on the ice. We know it’s going to be a roller coaster of emotions with the fans. I’m sure it’s going to be loud and buzzing in there, but we just have to rely on each other like we did in Vegas, trust our system, trust each other to make the smart plays.”

Dallas was 26-10-5 with a goal differential of plus-34 on the road, including third best in goals against at 2.63 per game. The Stars allowed 3.02 on home ice, so that was a huge difference. Colorado led all home teams in scoring at 4.20 and was a plus-61 on home ice. The best way to halt that is to stay focused.

“We’ve got a good road formula, but you’re putting it up against the best home team in the league, so it’s always a great test,” DeBoer said. “That’s a tough building to play in, it’s a tough building to make sure you handle the momentum swings of the game properly. Like Vegas, they can get two or three really quickly on you, so we have to manage all of those things.”

DeBoer on Heiskanen's play, style of play vs Colorado

That said, the Stars do love playing on the road. They took the air out of the Vegas crowd and they would love to do the same thing in Denver.

“Our team enjoys playing on the road in those environments, so that’s good,” DeBoer said. “I think this is a little different than Vegas just because Colorado is a little bit more explosive. They can really turn things around quickly, as we saw.”

Thus, the details . . . and the defense . . . and the communication. It has worked before. It can work again.

“Just simple,” Seguin said. “Being on the road makes you simplify your game for many reasons. We’ve done a great job on the road, so we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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