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Game Three Recap: Avalanche held attackless in defeat

May 11, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Dallas Stars center Craig Smith (15) controls the puck against Colorado Avalanche center Casey Mittelstadt (37) and right wing Valeri Nichushkin (13) in the third period in game three of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

No matter what the Colorado Avalanche did, they could not muster up anything against the Dallas Stars in Game Three of this second-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite controlling the play throughout a good chunk of the game, they could not find the back of the net in a 4-1 loss at home. 

It was a disappointing effort in the second half of the game, with Colorado only putting up seven shots in the third period while playing from behind. It worked in the first two games to come back from behind, but not in this game. Here’s how it all happened. 

First Period

After an early scare of a Miles Wood blocked shot which left him struggling, Colorado would put it to the Stars early. They had a couple of looks at 4-on-4, and two power plays which went missing. 

This helped Dallas grow more into the game as they were put on the back foot. Against the run of play, it would take a failed Avalanche clearance to find the stick of Logan Stankoven for the opening goal. 

The third power play of the game for the Avs came with Matt Duchene being called for tripping. Away from the play and after the whistle, both Josh Manson and Mason Marchment got into it, leaving both unavailable for their sides with the penalties carrying over to the middle frame. 

Second Period

With the power play being killed off, it was a sign of what was to come for Colorado. They struggled to move and handle the puck, as they were barely able to set up for their man advantage. Even with Valeri Nichushkin getting a good look in front, it would be Alexandar Georgiev who would be kept busy with a chance sitting at the side of the net which went away for the Stars. 

Brandon Duhaime put the Avs on the back foot with an interference penalty which was just about killed off. He did get a great chance right out of the box crashing the net, but Jake Oettinger was up to the task. 

It did push Colorado forward as they did in the first, and finally, they found a breakthrough. It took Nathan MacKinnon beating three players to the front of the net, with his initial shot saved but finished off by Mikko Rantanen to draw level. 

Nichushkin again had a golden look in the slot, combining with Zach Parise but ringing it off the iron. It proved to be a costly missed chance, as Tyler Seguin went the other way and beat Andrew Cogliano to the back post to give his team the lead going into the intermission. 

Third Period

For a third consecutive game, it would take an Avalanche comeback for them to win this game. But compared to the other two games in this series, Dallas shut things down and put plenty of chances on Georgiev, which he was phenomenal in doing so to keep the Avs within one. 

But with the Stars getting in the way, Colorado struggled. They couldn’t move the puck well, were losing possession, bouncing pucks away to create turnovers, and could not get anything to the net. They tried what they could with Georgiev pulled twice, but both Seguin and Stankoven scored their second goals of the game to seal a 4-1 win and a 2-0 series lead. 

Yeti Takeaways

It was a brutal and ugly Game Three for the Avalanche, as they could not find the back of the net. It wasn’t for a lack of shots at the beginning of the game, but rather they couldn’t even get to the offensive zone in the first place. With bouncing pucks causing turnovers and the inability to connect passes, it made it hard to find chances as the game came to a close. Even when they did get into the offensive zone, Dallas was quickly on the Avs offense, closing them down and getting their sticks and bodies in the way to stop them from getting looks on Oettinger. Even though they had their chances in the first period, including a puck cleared off the line by Ryan Suter, they didn’t get much afterward and fell to their demise. 

Goaltending did end up being a big difference in the game. Georgiev only gave up two goals, but the first goal he might want back as it went through his body and just squeezed in. Meanwhile, at the other end, Oettinger was stellar in the first period to keep his team in front and eventually held off for the win. His effort in the net was critical to keep Dallas afloat and pushing forward. It could be argued he “stole” this game as he was faced with more shots (29-23) than his opposite netminder, but in the end, he was the driving force in an offensive effort at the other end of the ice. Colorado needs something similar in the final four games to respond. 

Speaking of responding in the final four games, the Avs have now lost the home-ice advantage they gained by winning Game One in overtime in Texas. With the Stars taking this one, they now lead the series 2-1. If you’re Colorado, you do not want to drop both Game Four and then face elimination in Dallas for Game Five. The most concerning thing, however, is it looks eerily similar to the first-round series against the Seattle Kraken: Did the Stars figure out the Avalanche’s game? If they did, Colorado has to respond and switch things up or else they could face the same fate as they did last season in the playoffs, just one round later. It will be interesting to see how Jared Bednar responds with his team as a whole not responding to their Game Two loss in Game Three. They have to respond, and this might be how to if they want a chance to even this series up and beat the Stars in seven games.

Next on the Mountain

Game Four is back at Ball Arena on Monday night, with puck drop at 7:30 p.m. MT on ESPN.