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Stars Dominate Play, but Fall to Varlamov and Avalanche

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars dominated play for most of the night against the Colorado Avalanche, but it didn’t add up to a victory or even a point. Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov was superb in net, stopping 41 of 44 shots as Colorado defeated the Stars, 4-3 at American Airlines Center.

“Throw out the first five minutes and we dominated,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Their goalie stole the show.”

The Stars outshot the Avalanche 44-21 on the night, including 32-11 over the final two periods. Shots directed at the net were 71-41 in favor of the Stars.

“We had a lot of great opportunities late. We couldn’t get it to go,” said Ruff. “We probably had five or six point blank chances in the second to blow the game open and he was there and made some saves.”

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Stars, who overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to tie the game 3-3 going into the third period.

“It was a bit of a tough start, but we did a lot of good things in this game,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We worked pretty hard and I thought we outworked them. They capitalized on a couple of lucky goals there. That’s the difference in the game.”

Colorado won for the sixth time in the last eight games (6-2-0) and improved to 10-3-1 in its last 14 games.

“It was very entertaining for the fans. I thought they played well tonight. The difference in the game without a doubt was the start of the game and the performance of our goalie,” said Colorado coach Patrick Roy. “Having such a good start, they had to play catch-up hockey. In this league, it’s very difficult, but they had a really good second period. They had almost what 19 or 20 shots on net? They were buzzing. It’s high-tempo team. Our goalie was outstanding.”

The Avalanched scored 1:40 into the game to take a 1-0 lead. After Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski turned the puck over in the neutral zone, Colorado entered the offensive zone and the end result was Nathan MacKinnon scoring off a close range backhand shot.

The Stars pushed back, had some chances but Colorado extended the lead to 2-0 late in the period. After Matt Duchene blocked an Alex Chiasson shot, the Avalanche went on the rush and Jamie McGinn scored off a rebound with 4:03 left in the first.

The Stars answered a minute-and-a-half later when Seguin got to the puck along the left boards and set up Benn, who scored from the left circle to make it a 2-1 game with 2:33 left in the first period.

The Stars went on a 59-second four-on-three power play early in the second period and cashed in to tie the game at 2-2. Benn sent a cross-ice pass to Seguin, who scored off a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle 1:02 into the second. The goal snapped a 12-game goal scoring drought for Seguin.

“It felt good,” Seguin said. “I felt like I got a monkey off my back for sure getting that goal.”

The two teams traded goals late in the second period. Colorado took a 3-2 lead with 2:03 left in the period when Paul Stastny scored off a backhand shot with the Avalanche on the power play.

The Stars answered just 16 seconds later when Goligoski set up Seguin, who beat Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov with a shot from the right circle off the rush to make it a 3-3 game.

The Stars went on a power play early in the third period, couldn’t cash in and 19 seconds after it expired Colorado took the lead when an Alex Tanguay shot from the left circle deflected off Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar’s skate and past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen 4:13 into the period.

"The puck goes off our skate into the net for the game-winning goal,” said Ruff. “That's tough."

“That’s tough,” Benn said of giving up the goal right after the power play. “Power plays can make a difference in the game. I think we got one, but two or three would have done it.”

The Stars went on another power play with 19:38 remaining in the game when Avalanche forward Patrick Bordeleau put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. The Stars had a couple of great chances, but Varlamov stoned Seguin and Erik Cole from close range. Later in the period he stopped Antoine Roussel breaking in and then denied Cody Eakin’s rebound bid.

“Well, if we draw a list of big saves, we might be here tomorrow,” said Roy. “In the third, point blank, pass across, he made at least three or four. He’s playing outstanding for us. I just want to be careful because I just want to go one game at a time. I think that’s the approach Varly has, but we understand what he’s been doing for us.”

And what he did Monday night was steal points from the Stars.

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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