The Stars on Saturday played a near perfect road game.

And why wouldn’t they?

The team that set a franchise record for best road record during the regular season was facing a Colorado Avalanche team that led the NHL with the top home record. The road team won, 4-1, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and flexing a little muscle both physically and mentally.

Dallas has had the upper hand in large portions of this series so far, but the challenge on Saturday was especially daunting. Beat Colorado in the Mile High air and impose your will on the game? That was a tall task, to be sure. But the Stars did just that as Jake Oettinger was serenely splendid in stopping 28 of 29 shots, and both Tyler Seguin and Logan Stankoven scored two goals apiece.

“I don’t think a coach has ever seen a perfect game, but that’s as close to a perfect road game as you can play in my mind coming into this situation,” said Stars coach Pete DeBoer. “We knew they were going to come out guns-a-blazing in the first period. You knew their home record. You knew they had challenged their best players, their coach did after last game. So, we knew we were going to get a lot thrown at us early in that game. Our composure throughout the night was outstanding.”

Pete DeBoer on strong road win in Game 3 vs Colorado

Dallas raced out to a 3-0 lead in Game 1 at home, but lost in overtime. It took a 4-0 lead in Game 2 and had to hold on for a 5-3 win with an empty-net goal. So there were a lot of discussion points in both dressing rooms. The Avalanche wanted to take its first lead in the series, the Stars wanted to show they could contain the top scoring team in the league, even when it was playing on home ice.

Both sides did what they wanted to do, as Colorado controlled play, drew three power plays and one four-on-four situation and had an 11-5 advantage in shots on goal. The Stars answered with strong penalty killing and really solid play from Oettinger.

”Jake and our penalty killers allowed us to get through the first,” DeBoer said. “That’s really the reality of the game, and then we got going and started to play. And it wasn’t that we weren’t playing in the first, it was just you’re shorthanded three times and a four-on-four situation that plays into their hands. I thought our PK and Jake really gave us a chance to survive that. From then on, we were really good.”

The Stankoven goal was a great example of how Dallas did get its chances, and just needed to find a way to cash in. The 21-year-old rookie was in a 21-game goal drought and had just two assists in the first nine games of the playoffs. But he and linemates Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson put together a grinding shift that resulted in several won puck battles. Miro Heiskanen then found Stankoven in the slot and he lifted a perfect shot in for a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute of the first period.

DAL@COL: Stankoven scores goal against Alexandar Georgiev

“It just comes with having a good shift,” Stankoven said when asked about staying calm in a high-pressure situation. “Miro made a good pinch to keep that play alive. Otherwise, they would’ve had a rush down the other way, so credit to my linemates to make that play happen, and I just tried to get a quick shot off.”

That lead stood until Mikko Rantanen scored midway through the second period on a beautiful assist from Nathan MacKinnon. But then, the Stars found a fantastic counter-attack that led to the eventual game-winning goal. Defenseman Chris Tanev made an exceptional pass to spring the Stars on a break. Sam Steel hit Evgenii Dadonov on the left wing, and he passed across to Tyler Seguin charging to the net on the right wing. Seguin lifted in his second goal in as many games and the Stars had a 2-1 lead heading to the third period.

DAL@COL: Seguin scores goal against Alexandar Georgiev

Now, that might have been a problem in previous games. After all, Colorado made furious rallies in Games 1 and 2, and the Stars had to have just a little self-doubt in their collective mind. But the team held strong, they actually out-chanced the Avalanche in the third period, and they walked it off when both Seguin and Stankoven scored empty-net goals.

In the first three games, the Stars have led for 114:59 of play. The Avalanche, on the other hand, have yet to hold a lead.

“I think our group took it personally when everyone questioned whether we could hold a lead in the third,” DeBoer said with a laugh. “You know, it was warranted with how the first two games went, but we knew we were better than that. We’ve been really good in those situations all year, been great on the road all year. We just felt comfortable tonight. The details of our game tonight were outstanding.”

Oettinger helped make that happen. He continues to come up big, especially on the road, where he is 3-1 with a 1.42 GAA and .952 save percentage.

“Words don’t do justice for a guy like Jakey,” Seguin said. “He knows the atmosphere and the start that they were going to have. We needed him, and he always seems to rise to the occasion.”

He wasn’t alone on Saturday. Tanev and Esa Lindell were exceptional defensively. Dadonov created several chances and could have had a few more points. Meanwhile, Mason Marchment had five hits, Tanev had five blocked shots, and Craig Smith had four takeaways. It was a gritty win that puts Dallas in a good place heading into Monday’s Game 4 – also on the road, by the way.


“I think there’s definitely areas of our game we could improve,” said Stankoven. “I thought the first part of the game, we didn’t really play to our best, but we got a little bit better as the game went on. I don’t think we were perfect whatsoever. I think we can keep on building.”

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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