Stars blast Avalanche to extend winning streak
DENVER — The Dallas Stars were primed for a letdown game after two emotional wins over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Playing for the second consecutive night, they were sluggish at the start Sunday, but once they got rolling, the Stars dominated the Colorado Avalanche.
Tyler Seguin and Brent Ritchie scored two goals each, Devin Shore had a goal and an assist, and the streaking Stars beat Colorado 7-2.
Jason Spezza and Greg Pateryn also scored, Alexander Radulov and John Klingberg had two assists each, and Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves for Dallas. The Stars won their fifth in a row and their seventh in the past eight.
“The energy was lacking tonight, I don’t know how it looked from up top, it was how we controlled our energy,” Seguin said. “We played with great purpose and great poise with the puck.”
Mikko Rantanen and Blake Comeau had goals, and Semyon Varlamov stopped 16 of 18 shots in relief of Jonathan Bernier for the Avalanche.
Colorado is 1-3-1 since shutting out Dallas on Nov. 22 and fell to 1-3-0 on its five-game homestand. It was a winless homestand last season that started a season-long slide to the bottom of the NHL, and things are playing out similarly this season despite the Avalanche having a better record at this point.
“I don’t really give a (darn) if we’re better than we were last year at this point,” Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson said. “We gave them everything they got tonight. We turned the puck over, we were sloppy, and there’s no excuse. They played last night, got in probably 2 in the morning and we were rested and ready to go, and we laid an egg. It’s unacceptable.”
Colorado’s issues went beyond poor puck management. The Avalanche ran into a team that is in a groove and playing well.
“We are playing the right way. We are not chasing the game up and down the ice,” Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We aren’t gambling on 50-50 situations. We are playing smart.
“You play the game the right way, you give yourselves a chance to win games.”
The Stars had every excuse to be flat against Colorado. They played four straight games against teams with winning records and battled Central Division rival Chicago in a pair of games that went beyond regulation, and they were playing for the third time in four nights.
“The last two games weren’t really hockey games, they were playoff games,” Seguin said of the wins over the Blackhawks. “There was a lot of emotion, overtime and shootout.”
There could have been a letdown after Rantanen scored 39 seconds into the second period to cut the Stars’ lead to 2-1, but Dallas struck twice in 1:04 to go up by three.
Spezza made it 3-1 with a backhander through Bernier’s pads at 6:48, and Pateryn chased Bernier with a slap shot from the point at 7:52.
Bernier allowed four goals on nine shots before being replaced by Varlamov.
“Timing of goals is everything,” Pateryn said.
The Stars (16-10-1) had a goal by Radek Faska overturned on a coach’s challenge at 11:34 of the second. The Avalanche contended that Dallas center Tyler Pitlick interfered with Varlamov, and the challenge was successful after a review.
Colorado (12-11-2) got within 4-2 when Comeau scored his second on a delayed penalty just over a minute later, but Ritchie’s goal on another Avalanche turnover at 4:02 of the third made it a three-goal game again.
Shore scored into an empty net at 17:24 of the third, and Ritchie got his second of the night 46 seconds later.
“It’s 2-1 and then they score two goals again,” Rantanen said. “It’s 4-1, then we get it to 4-2, but it wasn’t good enough.”
Seguin, who has eight hat tricks in his career, gave the Stars a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals in the first period. He got the first one when he intercepted Matt Nieto’s pass at the Dallas blue line, skated into the Colorado zone and beat Bernier with a backhander at 14:44.
He got his second of the night and 14th of the season at 19:11 of the first.
NOTES: Colorado LW Gabriel Landeskog served the third game of his four-game suspension for his crosscheck of Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk on Nov. 25. ... Dallas LW Antoine Roussel missed his second straight game with the flu. The Stars also placed C Martin Hanzal (hamstring) on injured reserve and recalled C Jason Dickinson from Texas of the AHL. ... Avalanche D Erik Johnson played in his 600th NHL game on Sunday and 397th with Colorado. He played his first 203 games with St. Louis. ... Avalanche C Nathan MacKinnon has seven goals and 17 assists since Oct. 27.