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Klingberg's OT goal lifts Stars to 4-3 win over Avalanche

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars finally got a win against the Colorado Avalanche, rallying for a 4-3 victory at Pepsi Center Thursday night. The victory snapped an eight-game losing streak against Colorado, a team the Stars hadn’t defeated since December 2013.

“It’s a tough building for us to play. We said we’ve just got to get better and win a game against them,” said Stars forward Ales Hemsky. “It’s a big win for us.”

Jason Demers scored on the power play with 8:40 remaining to tie the game 3-3 and then John Klingberg won it 35 seconds into overtime. After Colorado’s Tyson Barrie turned over the puck, Klingberg led a three-on-one rush and scored off a slap shot from the right circle.

“I was looking at the goalie, saw some net on the left side and was just trying to aim it. It was nice to see it go in there,” Klingberg said. “Very strong of us to come back to end this streak and win this game.”

Hemsky and Jason Spezza scored for the Stars. But the Stars lost Spezza in the second period to an upper-body injury. Coach Lindy Ruff said Spezza could be out “more than a few days.”

Goaltender Antti Niemi, who was making his fifth straight start, stopped 21 of 24 shots. His biggest save came early in the third when he stopped Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon on a penalty shot to keep the Stars, who were down 3-2, within one goal.

“It was huge,” said Hemsky. “It would have been 4-2 and kind of killed the game, so it was a huge save for us and kept us in the game.”

The Stars outshot Colorado 44-24 and had an 85-34 advantage in attempted shots. It looked a lot like the last game the two teams played (a 3-1 Colorado win in Dallas), but this time, the Stars found a way to win.

“We dominated the game from start to finish,” said Ruff. “It’s almost the same song every time we play. Last game, same way. This time, we pushed through.”

There was a lot to push through. The game was physical with several big hits and some stuff Ruff didn’t like.

“I thought we fought through some adversity. I thought we could have got some calls tonight. Two or three times guys got hit with high sticks and were bleeding on the bench,” Ruff said. “Running over our goalie, which is not only goalie interference but it’s a penalty at the same time. I thought we fought through that. It was a gutsy win.”

The win was the third straight for the Stars (33-14-5). Colorado (27-24-3) lost its second straight game and its third in the past four games (1-2-1).

''We need to play better defensively,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. “We are lucky we have a point tonight, quite honestly.”

Spezza gave the Stars a 1-0 lead at 1:31 of the first period, taking a slick backhand pass from Patrick Eaves and scoring from close range on Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard.

But the Avalanche drew even a little more than a minute later when Blake Comeau scored off the rush, making it a 1-1 game at the 2:45 mark. Colorado went up 2-1 when Nick Holden’s shot from the point made its way through traffic and past Niemi at 5:54 of the first.

The Stars outshot the Avalanche 19-8 and had a 29-11 advantage in shot attempts in the second period, but still trailed by one goal heading into the second intermission. After dominating play for most of the period, the Stars finally tied the game at the 15:35 mark. Alex Goligoski sent a long pass to set up Hemsky on a breakaway and Hemsky roofed a shot over Pickard to make it a 2-2 game.

But the Avalanche answered 85 seconds later when Comeau sent a cross-ice backhand pass to Carl Soderberg, who scored from the bottom of the right circle to give Colorado a 3-2 lead at 17:00 of the second.

The Avalanche thought they had scored less than a minute later to make it 4-2, but Colorado forward Andreas Martinsen ran over Niemi and after a brief video review the goal was waved off for goaltender interference.

That kept it a 3-2 game going into the third period, where Niemi came up with the big save on MacKinnon’s penalty shot, setting the stage for Demers' game-tying goal and Klingberg’s heroics in overtime.

Stars forward Jason Spezza left the game eight minutes into the second period after slamming into the endboards following a hit from Colorado defenseman Francois Beauchemin. Spezza did not return.

“It’s upper body. Looks like a little bit of time,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “I am going to say that it is more than a few days.”

*The Stars have won consecutive road games for the first time this season since winning six straight on the road from November 3-28.

*The Stars improved to 10-4-1 against the Central Division.

*The Stars were 1-2 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.

*Ales Hemsky led the Stars with seven shots on goal. Patrick Sharp led the Stars with ten shot attempts.

*The Stars won 30 of 36 faceoffs (45 percent).

*Tyler Seguin won 12 of 18 faceoffs (67 percent). Jason Spezza won 5 of 7 (71 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 19 (37 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 11 (36 percent).

The Stars return home to take on the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night. The Stars are three points behind Chicago in the race for first place in the Central Division.

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaPatrick Eaves

Antoine RousselCody EakinAles Hemsky

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerValeri Nichushkin

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Patrik NemethJordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak

Injured: Colton Sceviour (upper body)

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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