Avalanche Got Legs Under Them in Another Comeback to Beat Fading Stars in 2nd-Round Opener

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates in front of right wing Valeri Nichushkin (13) and Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen (4) after scoring a goal in the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series in Dallas, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/LM Otero)


DALLAS (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche had gone a full week since wrapping up their first-round series, and were down three goals in the first period on the road against the top seed.

But once league MVP finalist Nathan MacKinnon and the Avs started getting back into the flow of things Tuesday night, the Dallas Stars seemed to suddenly get hit by the fatigue from closing out their tough opening Western Conference series with a Game 7 win just two nights earlier.

“Was definitely tough taking a week off. Took us a bit but once we found our legs, I thought we had a great second, great third,” said MacKinnon, who tied the game at 3-3 in the opening minute of the third period.

“At the end of the day, it’s playoff hockey, and there is just no quit,” said defenseman Cale Makar, who had a goal and two assists. “If you are going to look at this game I feel like, as a group, we just stuck with it and grinded it out and found a way to win it.”

Colorado had its first three-goal comeback in a playoff game since 1997. Miles Wood scored with a hard charge and a backhander 11:03 into overtime for a 4-3 win Tuesday night.

“It took us a little while to get to our game tonight,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “They capitalized on their chances in the first period.”

Dallas had nine shots on goal in the first period, and came just inches short of a fourth goal. But the Stars had just seven more shots the rest of regulation before being denied six times by Alexander Georgiev in overtime before former Dallas player Andrew Cogliano got a puck out of a scrum in the corner and chipped ahead to Wood, who was screaming for the puck.

The Avalanche, the 2022 Stanley Cup champion, finished their first series in five games over Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, the Stars had to go the distance before eliminating the Vegas Golden Knights, last year’s champions. They won 2-1 in Game 7 at home on Sunday night.

“I knew that there would be some fatigue and a little bit of an emotional letdown coming off Game 7. I was actually surprised at how sharp we were to start, but it did hit us in the middle part of that game,” Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said. “And you also knew that they might be a little rusty at the start. But as they got comfortable, they would get better because they’ve been off for a week. So I think that’s probably what you saw.”

Colorado had three comeback wins against the Jets in the first round, but none of those were from more than one-goal deficits.

But this wasn’t the first time this season for the Avalanche to come back from a 3-0 deficit in Dallas. They were down that early in the second period back in November before scoring six unanswered goals in a 6-3 win.

The Avs were 3-1 in the regular season against Dallas. They came back in all of them, from two goals down in a 5-4 overtime win and giving up the first goal to a 5-1 win in the other.

MacKinnon said it was easy to draw comparisons from those comebacks.

“I think against Dallas and then all playoffs we’ve been pretty good from down a few. Tonight was no different,” he said. “It didn’t feel like they were dominating us. They had a seeing-eye shot. One went off our defensman’s stick. … But definitely, you felt like we were in it even though it was 3-0.”

And now they are up 1-0 in the series.


AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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