Twenty-four hours after getting blown out by the Colorado Avalanche in Denver, the Stars bounced back with a much better effort Tuesday night at American Airlines Center and, more important, they came away with a 3-2 victory.
“It was certainly a better effort all-around tonight,” said Stars forward Ray Whitney, who scored two goals. “Defensively is what you can look to. Yesterday we were standing around watching them do their thing, and it didn’t work out very well for us. Tonight the chances they created were very limited compared to last night. Our goaltender made some great saves at the end.”
The Stars, who surrendered six goals and 48 shots in Monday’s loss in Denver, tightened things up defensively on Tuesday. They limited the Avalanche to 27 shots on goal and Dan Ellis stopped 25 of them. Ellis won his third straight start and improved to 4-0-0 at home this season.
“He is very capable of winning you hockey games and giving you a good run or stretch of games,” said Whitney.” Obviously Kari [Lehtonen] is one of the premier goalies in the league, but even he needs a rest once in a while. I think after the 50 shots he had last night, tonight was a nice night for him to get a break and recharge, and Dan stepped up and played great.”
The Stars overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in the game before Colton Sceviour scored the game-winning goal with 2:52 left in the third period, taking a pass from Rich Peverley and then beating Avalanche goaltender J-S Giguere on a breakaway for his second goal in three games since being called up from the AHL.
“I was able to pick it up at full stride and managed to put it in,” said Sceviour. “Any time you score a game-winning goal it is pretty exciting, especially at the NHL level it is even more exciting. And late in the third like that, it was a great feeling. I’m glad it went in.”
The Stars improved to 16-12-5 on the season, won for the first time in four tries against Colorado and pulled to within eight points of the Avalanche, who fell to 21-10-1.
“It’s too bad because we played a good game,” said Colorado coach Patrick Roy. “We had a great moment out there and we had our chances. We were buzzing as well and we had some chances as well. Then overall, I thought it was a great performance by our team. Nothing to show for it, but details at the end cost us at least a point.”
The Stars got into penalty trouble 1:03 into the game when Ryan Garbutt took a double minor for high sticking, and Colorado cashed in on the first of the two penalties to take a 1-0 lead. Matt Duchene knocked home the rebound of an Erik Johnson shot at the 2:37 mark.
The Stars drew even at 7:31 of the first when Shawn Horcoff put a shot on net from the left circle and Whitney put the puck into the open side of the net after it rebounded off traffic. The goal snapped a 13-game goal scoring drought for Whitney.
“It’s always nice to score when you’ve been dry for a while,” Whitney said. “Confidence is a big part of this game, and it’s nice to get that out of the way. Hopefully that will be it for that for the rest of the year.”
The Stars outshot the Avalanche 14-2 in the second period, but both teams scored one goal. The Stars put the Avalanche on another four-minute power play at 7:32 of the second period when Antoine Roussel took minors for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct. The Stars killed off most of the first one and then Colorado’s Tyson Barrie took an interference penalty that left the teams playing four-on-four, and the Avalanche scored to take a 2-1 lead when Johnson scored from the right circle at the 10:20 mark.
The Stars drew even, cashing in on their second power play of the night when Whitney scored off a one-timer from the right circle with 2:41 left in the second period. It was just the second power play goal the Stars have scored at home.
The Stars had a 45-second five-on-three power play six minutes into the third period, but couldn’t take advantage.
The Stars’ penalty kill came up big, killing off Colorado’s sixth power play of the game with 6:29 remaining. Ellis had a slick glove save of a Gabriel Landeskog bid from the slot.
“The biggest save of the night was on the power play,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “The glove save was an incredible save.”
That set the stage for Sceviour’s game-winner with 2:52 remaining. But the Avalanche had one flurry left. After Tyler Seguin hit a post and Jamie Benn hit the crossbar with the Colorado net empty, the Avalanche had several shot attempts in the final 30 seconds.
“We had the puck in the hands of the guys we’d want for the empty-netter, but posts and it was unfortunate with the one off the shaft and crossbar,” said Whitney. “And then there was the mad scramble in our end around the net, and that is where Dan was exceptional.”
Ellis made three saves during the scramble. His teammates blocked three other shot attempts.
“That last little bit was pretty crazy,” Ellis said. “I’d like to see the replay because just being there in action you just see the way your guys are sacrificing in front. I think everyone was in the butterfly position, playing the goaltender position. Last night didn’t go the way we wanted, but we came back tonight and played the way we were capable of. That last minute was a testament to how hard we worked and how hard we wanted it.”
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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.