NHL: Stars appropriately carrying Avalanche headed into game against Stars
The Colorado Avalanche are short-handed and plugging in AHL players to fill out the lineup, but it hasn’t yet hurt them on the ice.
Colorado has kept winning despite missing key players and being outshot 80-44 over the last two games, but it will face a stiff test at the Dallas Stars on Monday night.
The Avalanche wrap up their three-game road trip at Dallas and look for a road sweep. They beat Carolina in overtime on Thursday despite the Hurricanes holding a 48-15 advantage in shots on goal and then shut out Washington 4-0 on Saturday night.
“We have half our team out right now, and we’re still finding ways to win,” Nathan MacKinnon said. “Our division’s good, obviously like every other year and we need these points. We want to be in a good, solid position when we get healthy.”
Colorado is winning because its star players are carrying a load. Artturi Lehkonen scored the overtime goal on Thursday night and had a goal and an assist on Saturday night, while MacKinnon had a goal and an assist and Cale Makar also scored in the victory versus the Capitals.
“Highly competitive guys that want to be difference-makers at all times, and I think it’s even more important when you got a significant amount of injuries,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “Your top guys have to be your top guys and sort of drive the bus, and our guys have been consistently doing that from the start of the season.”
The Avalanche have gotten good goaltending, too. Pavel Francouz stopped 46 shots on Thursday night and Alexandar Georgiev had 32 saves in notching his first shutout this season for Colorado and ninth of his career Saturday.
The Stars are coming off a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night, their second straight victory. Dallas, like Colorado, got significant production from its top players in beating New York.
The Stars also might have rediscovered something against the Islanders. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, who were linemates for nearly a decade before being split up this year, were reunited Saturday night and combined for five points, including the tiebreaking goal from Benn.
“It’s fun. We’ve been together for 10 years now.” Seguin said, “It feels good.”
The reunion wasn’t planned but it could lead to more ice time together for the pair.
“They kind of got out there on a line change, and made the first goal happen,” Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said. “I decided to keep them together. That line was great (Saturday).”
Stars goaltender Scott Wedgewood was able to serve as Jake Oettinger’s backup two days after being taken off the ice on a stretcher in Florida. Wedgewood said his back locked up and the stretcher was just a precaution.
Monday’s game is the first of two that Dallas and the Avalanche will play this week. The teams will meet in Denver on Saturday night, just one of two home games Colorado will play in a stretch of 10 games.
–Field Level Media