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I don’t even know what to say.
Colorado had complete control of Game 2. They were leading 2-0 and controlling play. They were in a rhythm and playing well. There was intensity, effort, everything you wanted after a team played a bad Game 1.
One extremely weak slashing call on Sam Girard, followed seconds later by Corey Perry freely slashing Pavel Francouz’s glove after the whistle, and everything went sideways for the Avs.
And I mean everything.
Poor clearing attempts on the ensuing penalty kill and Ian Cole inexplicably cross-checking Joe Pavelski in the back and the Stars had a five-on-three advantage.
Two goals later, the game was tied and Dallas was suddenly the team back on top of the world, feeling good about themselves as they had climbed back into the game.
Colorado shrank from the moment as the Stars were rising to meet it.
An incredibly lucky series of bounces got the Stars the game-winning goal and a footrace and some controversy later, it was 4-2 going into the third period and the Avs were cooked.
An extremely Stars-ian third period that featured very little offense on either side and Dallas has a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
Colorado’s season is effectively on the line two nights from now.
How did we get here?
How did we get from the Avs laying waste to Arizona to being on the wrong end of a series against a team they have every positional advantage against?
It’s not like Dallas has thoroughly outplayed Colorado across either game. The Avs had a very poor Game 1 but they were significantly better tonight and thanks to seven minutes of hell, it just didn’t matter.
And that plays perfectly into what Dallas wants to do – scrape out offense, however they do it, then gear the game down into an extremely low-event affair that turns into teams trading the puck in the neutral zone while waiting for line changes.
That’s what happened tonight and I don’t even know what to say about it. Colorado had a five-on-three of their own after Dallas scored on theirs but failed to capitalize as Nathan MacKinnon rang one off the crossbar and Dallas got the Radulov bounce minutes later.
The vaunted depth from the Avs has completely disappeared with Nazem Kadri, so huge against Arizona, disappearing into the void along with linemates Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi.
The entire bottom six has been a virtual no-show through two games (some guys have had some nice moments but they’ve accomplished nothing as a group) and the Avalanche defense has all found generating offense to be a major struggle.
Subbing in for the injured Philipp Grubauer, Pavel Francouz is getting the best opportunity he’ll likely ever have in his career to show he’s a starting goaltender. He has not lived up to that moment through two games, though it would be incredibly unfair to say this is all on him.
And that’s the rub, I think. It’s been a team-wide letdown. The Avs had a bad Game 1 and that means the margin for error got that much smaller. Now they had a decent showing in Game 2 but were betrayed by seven minutes of complete insanity.
The pushback in either game has been incredibly disappointing. They’ve lacked fire in both third periods in which they trailed. They never mounted serious offensive pushes in either game as Dallas did exactly what it likes to do and the Avs failed to make them uncomfortable at all.
Even when the Avs got another PP chance in the third period of this game, it didn’t matter. They struggled to gain the zone, then everyone looked for someone else to make the big play. Outside of Nathan MacKinnon, the club looked like it completely lacks the killer instinct that we just saw last week bury the Coyotes.
Now that it’s gone, can they ever get it back?
- What an absolute embarrassment for the officiating crew involved in this game. Just a joke. And I say this knowing the Avs had EIGHT power plays in this game. They gave the Avs two chances in the third period to come back and Colorado simply had nothing. That’s completely on them. But the way the second period unfolded was the stuff of dreams for the Stars. They were getting beaten up and down the ice. The call on Girard from the ref at center ice is extremely soft but okay, say by the absolute letter of the law you call it. The slash from Perry on Francouz’s glove after the whistle was absolutely more egregious than Girard’s infraction and deserved to be called. It changed the entire course of the game, and potentially the series. Cole shoving Pavelski in the back was definitely a penalty but this is the same Joe Pavelski that has been going down at every single point of contact through two games trying to draw calls. That’s hard for a ref because trying to decipher when a call is legitimate and when it isn’t with a guy like that becomes a total guessing game. But to call it on a check in front of the net that we see no less than 25 times a game? It’s extremely questionable. That’s three calls the refs made in less than 60 seconds of game time to turn the tide. The Stars capitalized and scored twice, which they had to do, not the refs, so that’s kudos to them. Then the Radulov nonsense and the Esa Lindell “he celebrated on the ice so he must have scored” call that was the fourth Dallas goal. Now, Sportsnet did have a replay eventually that showed the Lindell goal was legit, but the official on the ice made the call from an angle where it was physically impossible for him to make that call. He simply got lucky he was right and until that camera angle, it looked like Dallas had been given a fourth goal simply because their player celebrated on the ice after several camera angles came up empty. It should’ve been a no-goal call on the ice, then awarded a goal on replay. Even when the refs got it right, they got it wrong tonight and the NHL should strongly consider benching Dan O’Rourke for the rest of the postseason. He was nothing short of atrocious tonight.
- Just to be clear: The Avs did plenty on their own to lose this game and it wasn’t solely on officiating. It’s okay to acknowledge when officials incorrectly insert themselves into games and help turn things around. Colorado’s lack of execution, especially in contrast to Dallas cashing every chance they get, is the main reason this series is where it is. That’s all for tonight.
Pavel Francouz, Gabe Landeskog, Cale Makar: