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Avs-Stars Game 3 Studs & Duds

AJ Haefele Avatar
May 12, 2024

The Colorado Avalanche fell 4-1 to the Dallas Stars in Game 3. Here are the Avs Studs and Duds from the contest.

Studs

Nathan MacKinnon

It wasn’t a perfect night for MacKinnon as he was part of one of Colorado’s most blatant missed opportunities when he blew a chance on the first Avalanche power play to score into an empty net as Jake Oettinger hadn’t gotten across his crease yet and MacKinnon couldn’t get the puck through. MacKinnon did beat Oettinger in the first period but the puck trickled between his legs slowly enough that Ryan Suter was able to get back and pull the puck off the goal line before it could count.

His assist was an awesome highlight as he danced around Chris Tanev and got the puck through Oettinger and Mikko Rantanen cleaned up the rebound for Colorado’s only goal.

If you’re looking for discouraging signs, it was that MacKinnon generated as many chances as he did and finished with the lone assist. The encouraging sign is that Chris “MacKinnon Eraser” Tanev got eaten alive in the head-to-head matchup tonight.

I wanted to see how Jared Bednar would go about deployment with the home-ice advantage and for the most part he didn’t rock the boat and was comfortable with MacKinnon against Tanev. It should have gone better on the scoreboard than it did.

Sean Walker

Walker is a guy whose style is an easy fit into how the Avs like to play but his role on the club has fluctuated quite a bit since his arrival. He has settled in alongside Jack Johnson upon Sam Girard’s return in the postseason and games like this are ones that I greatly enjoy his impact.

Walker was going well enough that Bednar found reason to get Walker onto the ice alongside Girard, who was playing well but whose partner, Josh Manson, was struggling and the two produced some quality offensive pushes together.

It wasn’t an overwhelming game from Walker or one that produced many “Wow!” moments, but this was an evening where his aggression and pace-pushing made a difference and I think the Avs might have found something with him on the ice regularly backing up the swift-skating aggression of Colorado’s third line.

Colorado’s third line

This Wood-Colton-Kiviranta combo continues to defy logic to me but they continue to be a strong possession line. The offense is limited, as you’d expect with Wood and Kiviranta on the flanks, but they have the puck a lot and don’t allow much defensively.

Their speed and physicality are playing wonderfully against a Dallas team that enjoys playing that way and to see the Avs getting a foothold with a depth line in that kind of style is encouraging. You have to be versatile to win in the postseason and this line makes the forward corps significantly more well-rounded.

Tonight in 6:37 of 5v5 time, this trio produced 11 shot attempts, more than the Casey Mittelstadt line in less TOI, while only allowing four shot attempts against. The quality was in their favor, too, and multiple strong games for these guys is a weapon for the coaching staff.

Duds

The power play

The Avs got three power plays in the game’s first 22 minutes and not only didn’t score but produced almost nothing. I mean nooooooooothing. MacKinnon had one great look on the first one and that was it.

Colorado was all over Dallas in the first half of the game and the penalties were a result of the Stars struggling to contain the skating and aggression from the Avalanche. Then the Avs stopped skating, stopped prodding and probing for scoring chances, and the man advantages fell by the wayside without anything happening.

One thing the Stars did change was that against the top PP of the Avs, they attacked the puck hard and forced the Colorado superstars to make plays under pressure. The tactic worked as MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Cale Makar all made mistakes as they crumbled under that puck pressure. Teams typically don’t do that because it opens up so much space but Dallas was willing to gamble that they could prevent Colorado from using the time to find quality chances.

I would like to see Ray Bennett make a tweak to the power play plan going into Game 4 as they should expect that kind of pressure. They have to attack instead of react as an adjustment in Game 4. If they don’t, it’s hard to believe the results will be any different as this series carries on and if the power play doesn’t find its legs, this series could be over quickly.

Casey Mittelstadt

This isn’t Buffalo, man. You cannot go through stretches of drifting through games and repeatedly deferring to teammates and waiting for the big guns on the roster to win games. No. Casey Mittelstadt needs to own that he is a big gun on a team that is serious about winning a Stanley Cup, not trying to end a playoff appearance drought.

This is the real thing and he had an unacceptable heart rate as this game went on. The Stars took away space and instead of exploiting it with his excellent playmaking, he panicked and turned pucks over. And over. And over. And over.

Mittelstadt doesn’t play a strong enough physical game for his work with the puck to be lackluster and tonight it left so much to be desired. I was disappointed in the results, especially because the Dallas D that had the most success against him was Ryan Suter. It’s all bad for Colorado if Mittelstadt can’t find his game against the Dallas depth D and forwards.

Finish

I’m not sitting here being upset about how the Avs got dominated or something tonight; they didn’t. They had a strong 40 minutes and deserved a better fate than being down 2-1 going into the final frame. From there, Dallas put a death grip on Colorado’s offense and it was a masterclass in how to finish a game with a one-goal lead. Absolute perfection from Dallas.

Before that point, however, the Stars weren’t playing very well and were getting it taken to them at times. There were so many missed opportunities and Oettinger got beaten multiple times but pucks found ways not to go into the net behind him. He got the win and credit to him for controlling what he could, but the random element that decides hockey games every day certainly favored Oettinger more than anyone else in this game.

On the flip side, Colorado stopped putting in the honest work as the game wore on. They had plenty of jump and were doing the right things early and it resulted in them creating quality chances. That desire to play the game the right way wore down as the game did and it made life much easier for the Stars in defending the lead.

You have to finish your chances when you get them because you aren’t going to continue pouring them on against a defensive team as stout as the Dallas Stars. It just isn’t going to happen. Leaving those goals on the ice tonight cost them the game.

Avs Unsung Hero

Alexandar Georgiev

I don’t have a ton to say about Georgiev tonight because he didn’t face a ton of shots but I thought he played well. I didn’t like the first goal against at all but I’m never going to speedbag a goaltender who only gets a single goal of support. You aren’t winning that way regardless of how your netminder plays and Georgiev played plenty well enough to win this game in my opinion.

I continue to be disappointed that Georgiev has to eat the losses like this but that’s the sport, I suppose. I feel increasingly encouraged by the quality of his play.

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