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Avs fall flat in Dallas during matinee matchup

Jesse Montano Avatar
March 5, 2023

Colorado Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar all but admitted earlier in the week that the reason he started call-up goaltender Justus Annunen against the New Jersey Devils, and not Alexandar Georgiev, was because this weekend’s game just meant more. A back-to-back against the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken. Both teams that are in playoff contention with the Avs. 

Today the Avalanche kicked off the first leg of that back-to-back in Dallas against the Stars. The trade deadline was in the rearview mirror, Alexandar Georgiev was in net, and Cale Makar was back in the lineup.

Getting Makar back meant that things were looking up for the Avs health-wise… right?

Wrong. 

It was announced yesterday that Josh Manson would miss “some time” after re-aggravating a previous injury. In addition, we were told Val Nichuhskin wouldn’t be going on the trip due to an illness. So for the biggest game of the year, the Avs were dealt a fresh pair of injuries. 

Even still, there was plenty of reason for optimism and you felt like the Avalanche and Stars were going to turn in a fun game between the two teams battling it out for the top spot in the Central Division. 

That was not what we got. 

Instead, it was a lopsided game and the ice was tilted towards Colorado’s net from the moment ABC over from the Boston Bruins game 4 minutes late. 

For the first 40 minutes, the Stars were faster, smarter, stronger on pucks, and just overall sharper in their process. 

It wasn’t even five minutes into the game before Dallas’ puck movement had the Avs running around in their own end looking pretty lost. 

Joe Pavelski, to Roope Hintz, to Jason Roberston, into the back of the net. That goal really set the tone I thought. You could just see it in the body language of both teams. The Avalanche were on their heels early, and the Stars were on their toes.

I said to my DNVR colleagues right before the first goal that the Avs were going to need to weather the storm in the first period if they had any hope of getting any points out of this. You could just tell that Dallas had some extra jump in this one. They knew the Avalanche have games in hand, the Stars knew a win for the Avs would really give them zero margin for error in the standings. 

In short, they were ready for this one. 

After giving up the first goal, the Avs just weren’t ever able to get their footing. The first period went on to be a combination of sloppy penalties, poor decision-making, and uncharacteristic defensive lapses. 

Mikko Rantanen didn’t like a hit on Artturi Lehkonen behind the Dallas net. When he let Jani Hakanpää know that and the two got tangled up, Rantanen came away with the extra penalty. 

The Avs were able to kill the penalty, pretty effectively actually. Honestly, the PK was maybe their brightest spot of the day. It looked like it was maybe getting them back into the game early. They were really able to build off of that kill for a shift or two. 

Just a few minutes later though, it was Miro Heiskanen threw a puck on from out high that eluded Georgiev through traffic and made it two nothing. 

That goal crushed any momentum the Avalanche were building.

It took Colorado six minutes to build back any good in the offensive zone, and when they did Sam Girard was able to get ahold one and hammered a puck into the back of the net. It felt like a nice lift for the Avs. They had been battling uphill for 16 minutes and they broke through. Maybe carrying that into the locker room could change the trajectory of this game. 

Sike. 

After pushing the pace for a shift or two, a quick break the other for the Stars lead to a tic-tac-toe passing play off the rush and Joe Pavelski dunked it into a mostly open net. Devon Toews got beat badly wide, and then he just completely lost his guy on the back door. Not the type of defensive errors you typically see from Toews, another sign that this just maybe would not be their day.

3-1 after the first and the vibe to the game just didn’t feel good. Both the defense and goaltender were off to a bad start, and that typically isn’t a winning formula. 

Had the Avs gotten a goal early in the second, and really pushed back in terms of actual play on ice you would have felt like they could get back in it. But the start of the second looked just as ugly as the first process-wise for the Avalanche. 

Two goals against in the first 12 minutes of the period, and it was the end of the day for Georgiev, and really it was the end of the game. The rest of it didn’t really matter. 

We got our first look at Keith Kinkaid in an Avalanche uniform and his bright yellow pads were maybe the highlight of the rest of this game. You could tell both teams understood that the game was done and they kind of packed it in. 

The Avs have another game tomorrow night, they needed to start preparing for that mentally (and physically if you’re Georgiev).

The third period saw the Avs get a couple more pucks to go in, with Sam Girard picking up two more points, after giving one up early, then an empty-netter late.

The beauty of the NHL, the Avs got smoked today but they have a chance to immediately wipe the slate clean tomorrow when they welcome in the Seattle Kraken at 8:00pm MT. 

Last year’s Cup team made their living on being able to turn the page quickly. Let’s see off this group still has that. 

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