Despite being in a 2-0 series deficit to the Dallas Stars, which many may not have predicted, the Colorado Avalanche answered back in Game 3 with a 6-4 victory. This game marked another game that got away from the Avalanche as they were leading the game 3-1 with just over 15 minutes remaining in the third.
The Avalanche blew their two-goal cushion before the Stars reclaimed the lead halfway through the third period. Colorado showed great resiliency and eventually battled back, scoring three goals within the final eight minutes of the game to get their first win of the series. Nathan MacKinnon continued his strong play this postseason adding 2 assists in the game, bringing his total to 20 points in his 11 games thus far.
Due to injuries, the Avalanche’s lines have looked very different this series than they did in their Round 1 series against the Coyotes.
- Kevin Connauton played in his second straight game for injured Erik Johnson
- Pavel Francouz started his second straight game after Grubauer’s injury in Game 1.
- Joonas Donskoi was ruled unfit to play in Game 3 and was replaced in the lineup by Logan Conner.
- Matt Calvert remained sidelined and is yet to play in this series.
- Jared Bednar juggled his forward lines throughout the game featuring different players on the team’s top line with MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen
Game 3 Takeaways
Call in the Cavalry
The storyline going into this game was the lack of balanced scoring the Avalanche have been getting in this series compared to Round 1. With MacKinnon firing on all cylinders but not much of a supporting cast, the Stars have been able to limit the Avalanche’s offensive output.
The team was able to find some scoring help in Game 3, getting contributions from blueliners other than Cale Makar, such as Nikita Zadorov (1 goal and 1 assist) and Kevin Connauton (assist on the game-winning goal).
Secondary scoring from Andre Burakovsky who was promoted back to the second line and Nazem Kadri who contributed the game-winning goal helped propel the team to a win.
Special Teams Spark
The Avalanche’s power play was lethal in their first-round series against the Coyotes, operating at a 35% success rate, but it has not carried over into Round 2. Through three games in this series the team’s power play has scored twice over 12 opportunities.
The Avalanche will need to rekindle their flame on the man advantage to help break through a stifling Stars defense that is even more sound defensively in even-strength play.
Areas to Improve
The Avalanche have struggled to hold leads in their Round 2 series. In Game 2 they surrendered their first-period two-goal lead and allowed the Stars to score four unanswered goals in the second period, ultimately costing them the game. They almost suffered the same fate in Game 3 after jumping out to a 3-1 lead and allowing the Stars to battle back in the third and take a 4-3 lead before mounting their comeback.
“Obviously we would like to play better with the lead, no doubt, and just kind of stay on the attack and get some more zone time down in their end.”
Closing out games in Round 1 wasn’t too much of an issue because most of the games were out of reach by the start of the third period. The Stars, although not known for their offense, are a team that will continue to battle until the bitter end; the Avalanche need to be more aware defensively and nurture their leads into wins.
Battle Through Adversity
The Avalanche have not faced much adversity in the playoffs this year having cruised into the second round without any difficulty until now. The team should not be new to battling injuries to key players in their lineup as they have done it throughout the regular season. However, the injuries to Grubauer and Johnson in Game 1 looked to take their toll in the first two games.
The team has responded in Game 3 and battled both injuries and their own demons, having to come back to get their win. Now that they have found success, they should be ready to continue to battle through the adversity and tough grind the Stanley Cup Playoffs present.
With a win now under the Avalanche’s belt they will look to build momentum and tie this series in Game 4, which begins Friday night at 10:30 ET. Francouz will need to play better than his performance in Game 2 and 3; if he can find his regular-season form he could be a difference-maker through the rest of the series.
The Avalanche have improved their play with each passing game and will surely have to clean up some areas of their game to continue to get winning results. If they can stay responsible defensively, remain patient offensively and get their power play clicking again, they should be able to erase their 2-1 series deficit.