Throwing a knockout punch in a playoff series is a tough task.

Sure, you have put yourself into position to eliminate an opponent, so you definitely have the ability to beat that team in one key game, but the Stars have found out in this postseason that getting past a desperate squad is a just a bit more intense.

Dallas had a 3-2 lead on Vegas in the first round and lost in Game 6. It went on to win in Game 7. The Stars had a 3-1 lead on Colorado. It lost in Game 5 and now has a chance in Game 6 on Friday at Ball Arena. That’s just part of the day-to-day challenges of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“It’s a hard thing to do,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said Thursday. “You’re down to the eight best teams in the league right now, so it’s hard to close anyone out, and if it takes six or it takes overtime in seven, the bottom line is, you just want to move forward.”

Pete DeBoer on the slim margins

The Stars do have some wiggle room. By getting up 3-1 in the series, they are allowed three chances to win one game and take the best-of-seven matchup. While that’s a good thing, it can also be a point of contention. Stars forward Matt Duchene said that while the team played hard and played well in a 5-3 loss in Game 5, it felt like something was missing.

“I think it’s human nature to start thinking about the result maybe a little too soon,” Duchene said. “The other team is just thinking shift by shift and staying in the moment, and that’s really powerful at this time of the year. If you put the cart ahead of the horse too far, it doesn’t work. I thought Colorado played really well [in Game 5], I think we didn’t maybe do the things we did previously. I thought we were right there, but we let them back in with the two penalties. At the same time, this is a great opportunity to go into Colorado, a place where we won a couple of games, and try to close it out.”

When the Stars went on the road with the series tied 1-1, they played strong, detailed hockey. They allowed just two goals in two games, and really embraced their “road mentality.” Dallas had the best road record in the NHL (26-10-5) and the best road record in franchise history during the regular season. They currently are 4-1 away from home in the playoffs and have outscored opponents 16-8.

“Both teams are trying to win, regardless of where you are,” said forward Jason Robertson. “It’s just one of those things. But we’re confident on the road, and we’re going to need that going into Game 6.”

Jason Robertson speaks to the media after Game 6

Stars goalie Jake Oettinger has been a reflection of his team’s play at home and on the road. During the regular season, Oettinger had a 2.78 GAA and .898 save percentage at home, with a 2.67 GAA and .912 save percentage on the road. In the playoffs, his numbers are 2.96 and .879 at home, and 1.34 and .964 on the road.

That’s significant.

“I think there’s been games we’ve played just as well at home as we have on the road,” DeBoer said when asked what the difference was. “We’ve just found ways to lose instead of win. I don’t have an answer for that.”

That said, their one road loss was in Game 6 to Vegas and they turned around and won Game 7 at home, so there are different ways to get things done.

“We’ve got to find a way to get it done,” DeBoer said. “I’m confident in our game. I think our group trusts our game, both at home and on the road, so I think we’re confident going into a Game 6 on the road, and if it doesn’t happen, we’re confident in a Game 7. We’ve done it before here.”

Dallas was missing Roope Hintz for Game 5, and he still is listed as “day to day,” so he could be out for Game 6, as well. DeBoer juggled all of his lines and came up with some new combinations. Joe Pavelski and Logan Stankoven scored goals for Dallas, while Robertson had two assists while playing on a line with Duchene and Pavelski. There could be more juggling in Game 6, but the players say they believe many combinations can be successful.

“The beautiful thing here is that we have incredible depth,” Duchene said. “You can have a big player like Roope go down and still have some great options. It’s not like you’re reeling to replace him. Obviously, he’s a guy that’s very hard to replace, but we do have a lot of really good players that can step in and try to fill that void.”

Matt Duchene on the belief in this group

Key Numbers

100 percent
The Stars have killed all 10 penalties they have taken in five playoff games on the road and also have scored a shorthanded goal.

Dallas defenseman Miro Heiskanen leads his team in scoring and ranks third among all defensemen with 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists). He also ranks third in the NHL in average time on ice in the playoffs at 27:09.

Stars forward Wyatt Johnston ranks second in the playoffs with 42 shots on goal.

He Said It

“The production hasn’t been there, but I’ve done some good things and we’ve been winning games. You hear some of the noise and you try to take care of the process. It really is cliché, but you want to win games right now. However you do it, you do your part when you get a chance.”

- Stars forward Joe Pavelski on scoring his first goal of the playoffs Wednesday

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 and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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