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Stars Rally for Point, but Fall to Avalanche in OT

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars will take the point from Friday night’s overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche at American Airlines Center, but they can live without their start to the game. The Stars fell behind early, were down 2-0 after two periods but rallied to tie the game before falling 3-2 in overtime.

“We had a bad start tonight and it kind of cost us,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I thought we did a pretty good job battling back. … Whenever you can (rally in the third) for a point, it is big. But we still have a lot of work to do.”

After being outshot 13-1 over the first 8:22 of the game, the Stars outshot the Avalanche 27-13 for the rest of regulation in battling back to tie the game and get a point.

“It is a big point,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “We can talk about all the negative stuff in the first, but you can also talk about all the work we put in to get back in the game in the second and the third. If you would have asked me after the second period if you’d be happy with a point, I would say if we could battle back and get a point, it would be a big point for our club. It’s a small step in the right direction.”

The Stars got a big game from goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who came up with some big saves in the first period and then made a highlight reel save on Colorado’s John Mitchell in the third period that prevented the Avalanche from extending their lead.

“He gave us some great saves,” said Ruff. “I thought both goaltenders had to come up in the last 40 with some good saves.”

“I made some great saves, but I also let some bad goals in,” Lehtonen said. “It was a little different game tonight.”

Lehtonen and the Stars’ penalty kill came up big early, killing off back-to-back Colorado power plays, including a 59 second 5-on-3. Lehtonen had eight saves during the penalty kills, including back-to-back stops on Nathan MacKinnon.

But a little more than two minutes after those kills, the Avalanche struck at even strength. Alex Tanguay set up Paul Stastny, who put the puck into the open side of the net from close range to put Colorado up 1-0 at the 8:22 mark.

“You look at the start, we took a penalty and then took another one to give them a five-on-three. Lehts had to make five or six really good saves on the penalty kill. We dug ourselves a hole,” said Ruff. “We weren’t playing the game quick enough and as soon as we kill (the penalty) off, we turn the puck over and let them go right away the other way. That wasn’t smart hockey, that wasn’t good hockey.”

The Avalanche had a 13-1 shots advantage at that point and the Stars would outshot them 3-0 over the rest of the period, but Colorado took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

The Stars went on their first power play of the game with 9:08 left in the second period, but couldn’t take advantage.

A little more than a minute after failing to score on their third power play of the night, the Avalanche scored at even strength to take a 2-0 lead. After the Stars turned over the puck at the Colorado blue line, MacKinnon set up Gabriel Landeskog, who beat Lehtonen with a shot off the rush from the left circle with 1:19 left in the second.

The Stars finally got on the board with 16:03 left in the third period when Tyler Seguin set up Alex Goligoski, who beat Semyon Varlamov with a blast from the left circle.

The Avalanche came close to making it a 3-1 game about 40 seconds later, but Lehtonen made a spectacular pad save on John Mitchell’s point blank chance to keep the Stars within one goal.

“I thought it went in,” Lehtonen said. “I saw one replay where it looked like the water bottle was moving. I didn’t feel it touching me because I was moving all over the place, scrambling. But it ended up being a good save at a great time.”

The Stars killed off a Colorado power play later in the period and less than a minute later, Seguin scored off the rush to tie the game 2-2 with 3:29 remaining.

Alex Chiasson and Landeskog dropped the gloves on the ensuing faceoff and Landeskog picked up an additional roughing minor, putting the Stars on the power play with 3:27 remaining. The Stars had plenty of chances on the power play, but couldn’t get the puck past Varlamov and the two teams headed to overtime.

Stastny put the game away for Colorado, scoring a goal off the rush with 1:24 remaining to give Colorado a 3-2 victory.

“I don’t know. It’s overtime, four-on-four. Blew a two-goal lead. I tried to shoot through the D. You don’t score on these goalies unless you’re flying, you make a perfect shot or you use a screen. That’s what I tried to do, use a screen. I don’t know who the D man was, through his legs. You get it off and it’s going to be tough for the goalie whether it’s seven-hole or glove side. But a win’s a win.”

Colorado improved to 11-1-0 overall and 6-0-0 on the road. The Stars are now 5-6-2 on the season.

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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