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Stars Rack Up the Shots, but Can’t Top Avalanche

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars outplayed the Colorado Avalanche for a good part of the game Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough to add up to two points. The Stars put 41 shots on goal, but Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 39 of them as the Avalanche defeated the Stars 3-2 at Pepsi Center.

“We really dominated the play chart,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “It’s probably our best skating game, our best game on the chance sheet and Varlamov came up with a couple of beauties.”

Rich Peverley and Cody Eakin scored goals and Dan Ellis stopped 23 of 26 shots for the Stars, who fell to 2-3-0 but bounced back with a strong effort following a lackluster outing in Minnesota on Saturday. But, like Saturday’s loss in Minnesota, mistakes proved costly for the Stars.

“The effort was there, but we can’t give goals away,” said Stars forward Ray Whitney. “That’s two games in a row we did that and that’s what cost us. But the effort was there, we created more and got more pucks to the net and had more scoring chances. I guess you can say that’s an improvement.”

Colorado, which got two goals from Matt Duchene, improved to 6-0-0 on the season despite being outshot 41-26 by the Stars.

“It’s what we’ve been doing since the start of the year, finding a way to win,” said Avalanche coach Patrick Roy. “There were nights that we’ve played better. Tonight was not our best game.”

The Avalanche had a couple of early chances to take the lead but Ellis came up big for the Stars, stopping a Paul Stastny redirection and then an Erik Johnson shot from the point with the Avalanche on a power play.

The Stars took a 1-0 lead 4:18 into the game on a goal by Peverley. Jamie Benn knocked the puck away from Gabriel Landeskog and Tyler Seguin sent it to Peverley, who broke in alone on goal and beat Varlamov with a snap shot.

The Avalanche tied it at the 11:43 mark when Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar turned the puck over in the slot in front of the Dallas net, Matt Duchene got the puck and roofed it over Ellis to make it a 1-1 game.

“They had nothing going on and we handed them the first goal,” said Ruff. “We gave them a little bit of life.”

Colorado scored with just 7.0 seconds left in the first to take a 2-1 lead. After the Stars couldn’t clear the zone following a faceoff win, a Jan Hejda shot from the point bounced off traffic and past Ellis.

The Stars had two power play chances in the first half of the second period and scored on the second one to tie the game. Eakin won a puck battle along the boards and then finished off a give-and-go with Whitney at the 10:58 mark to make it 2-2 game.

The Stars had a chance to take the lead a couple minutes later, but Varlamov came up with stops on point blank chances by Antoine Roussel and then a rebound attempt by Shawn Horcoff.

Colorado scored less than two minutes later to regain the lead. With a delayed penalty call on the Stars, Duchene took advantage of some tired Stars, skating into the Dallas zone and roofing a shot over Ellis at the 14:18 mark to give the Avalanche a 3-2 lead.

“We only had a couple of shifts the whole game where we got caught tired,” said Ruff. “We had them on the ropes a couple of times and didn’t take advantage of it. They caught us on a long one and had a good shift. Duchene is a heck of a player. It ends up on his stick and it was a great shot.”

The Stars had a power play 6:19 into the third period and had some good looks, but couldn’t get a puck past Varlamov, who came up with a big save on a Seguin shot.

The Stars kept up the pressure and would put 17 shots on goal trying to get the equalizer. Ellis kept the Stars in the game with 2:10 left when he made a spectacular glove save on Steve Downie to keep the Stars within a goal.

The Stars pulled Ellis with a little more than a minute left for the extra attacker, but couldn’t get the tying goal. Varlamov stopped Alex Chiasson’s point blank bid at the buzzer to help the Avalanche run their winning streak to six games.

“It’s something we can build off,” said Seguin. “The first was shaky, but the second and third –when we were working hard and winning battles – is something we can take forward here. They worked hard as well. They’re a good team. Their goalie was pretty incredible, all through the third period and in the dying seconds. It’s something we can build off.”

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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