Both teams are securely in the playoffs and not fighting for survival, but Wednesday’s round-robin seeding game in Edmonton means plenty for the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.
The situation is more desperate for Dallas, which blew a two-goal lead against the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday in a 5-3 loss in its first game of the format. Now the Stars face a Colorado team coming off a last-second — literally — win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
If the Stars lose Wednesday, they can earn no better than the third seed in the West.
One key for Dallas heading into the game against the Avalanche is to forget about the loss to Vegas. The Stars led 3-1 after a dominant second period but saw the Golden Knights score four unanswered goals in the third.
“We just got away from our game,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness told reporters Monday. “There’s only one way to play this game, and that’s the right way. We stopped playing the right way. We just got very soft on the puck. The plays at the blue lines were both very soft, and all that does is give them momentum.”
Before the season was suspended March 12, the Stars dominated Colorado. Dallas won all four matchups, including one in overtime and another in a shootout, but the last time the teams played was Jan. 14.
The Avalanche were playing well before the pandemic shut down the sports world, and they picked up right where they left off with a 2-1 win over the Blues on Sunday. Nazem Kadri, who played only 51 games and was out injured when the season paused, scored with 0.1 seconds left in the third period to win it.
Colorado won despite not getting a lot of offensive production from stars Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog — they each had an assist in the win — but a stellar defensive effort and good goaltending carried the day.
“This is just one game, and we’re not going to get too high on it but it’s certainly nice to start off with a win,” Kadri said after the win over the Blues.
MacKinnon and Rantanen played together for most of Sunday’s win, but Landeskog spent much of the game on a line with Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin, as coach Jared Bednar routinely mixed things up.
Philipp Grubauer had 31 saves against the Blues, but might not be in net against Dallas. Pavel Francouz was playing well after Grubauer was injured during Colorado’s outdoor game against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 15. Bednar normally waits to announce his starting goaltender, but it appears likely Francouz will get the call.
Bednar gave his team a day off Monday.
“Today we just think it’s best to keep everyone away from the practice rink,” the coach said on a video conference call Monday. “I think some guys will probably head out and watch some of the games today and take some time for themselves.”
Ben Bishop will likely be in net for Dallas on Wednesday. He played in three of the four wins against the Avalanche during the regular season, stopping 118 of 123 shots.
–Field Level Media