The Dallas Stars made their only trip to Ball Arena in Denver Tuesday night and easily handled the league’s best team, beating the Colorado Avalanche 4-1. The victory came on the strength of outstanding goaltending, sharp power-play goals, and timely blocked shots.
Colorado outshot Dallas 47-20 and had four power-play chances, coming up empty each time. Nazem Kadri, the Avalanche’s second-line center and points leader this season was the culprit in two sloppy Avalanche penalties; a delay of game when he flipped the puck into the stands from his own defensive zone, and a too many men on the ice penalty when he played the puck in the midst of a line change. Dallas converted on both opportunities, one from Joe Pavelski, who had two goals and two assists on the night, and the other from forward Jason Robertson.
The contest was the final meeting of the regular season between the two division rivals. Here are three takeaways from the game.
Avalanche Consecutive Point Streak Comes to an End
Prior to this game, Colorado had not lost in regulation since Dec. 16, when they were beaten by the Nashville Predators 5-2 in Nashville. The team’s 17-0-2 record over that stretch was a franchise-best and was tied for the seventh-longest point streak in NHL history, with the 1939-40 New York Rangers and the 2018-19 Boston Bruins,
Colorado’s last home loss in regulation came on Nov. 6 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. To put that in perspective, the last time Colorado lost on home ice, these men were all still head coaches in the NHL: Travis Green (Vancouver Canucks), Alain Vigneault (Philadelphia Flyers), Paul Maurice (Winnipeg Jets), Dominique Ducharme (Montreal Canadiens), and Dave Tippet (Edmonton Oilers).
Both the point streak and home point streak were testaments to the work ethic of one of the most talented teams in the league.
Stars Have Colorado’s Number
While the Avalanche made quick work of the Stars in Dallas this past Sunday, winning the game 4-1, that was Colorado’s first regular-season win against the Stars since March of 2019. The Stars beat the Avalanche in Dallas earlier this year, and the two teams were in different divisions in the COVID-shortened season of 2020-21, so they never met.
In the prior year, 2019-20, the Stars won all four regular-season meetings. And, of course, fans of both clubs will remember Dallas besting Colorado in overtime of Game 7 in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For whatever reason, Dallas gives Colorado fits.
Jake Oettinger Stands on His Head
Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger stopped 46 of 47 shots on goal, shutting the Avalanche down time and again. The 23-year-old native of Lakeville, MN, sports solid career numbers with a 2.44 goals-against average (GAA) and a .911 save percentage (SV%) in 49 games played.
Perhaps his most spectacular save of the game came early in the third period. After Oettinger made an impressive save with his left pad on a shot from Avalanche forward Tyson Jost, Colorado defenseman Cale Makar picked up the rebound and fired at the open side of the net. Sliding from his left to right, Oettinger got his blocker up just in time to deflect the puck out of play. After the save, he lifted his helmet, giving Makar a “yeah, I just did that” smile.
The young net minder has been splitting time with veteran Braden Holtby. The Stars are 9-10-1 with Holtby in net and 13-5-0 when playing in front of Oettinger. If Dallas is out of contention as the trade deadline approaches, there will likely be interest in both goaltenders from several teams. Holtby, making an average annual value of $2 million, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Oettinger, making only $925,000, is a restricted free agent.
The Avalanche are back in action Wednesday night as they travel to the desert to face the Vegas Golden Knights. They will likely have their hands full as the game will feature the return of young superstar Jack Eichel to the ice, making his debut in a Golden Knights sweater.
Hockey dad, beer league hockey captain, rabid Avalanche fan. Author of five novels for young adults, including The Scar Boys, Life in a Fishbowl, and Hard Wired. Lives in Littleton, Colorado with two middle school-age kids, one awesome wife, and three pets. Voted least likely to break 100 on a golf course.