Avs try to stay alive again in Game 6 vs. Stars

League: NHL

Posted on: 17 May, 2024 at 06:14 PM

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche have never won a series after trailing 3-1, so they have a chance to make franchise history this weekend if they can take the next two games against the Dallas Stars.

Colorado's offense woke up in a 5-3 win at Dallas in Game 5 on Wednesday night, and the Avalanche can even the Western Conference semifinal series in Game 6 at Denver on Friday night. The Stars can close it out on the road, where they have been nearly unbeatable this postseason.

The win Wednesday accomplished two things for the Avalanche -- staying alive and finally taking a lead in regulation. The only other lead they held was when Miles Wood scored in overtime of Game 1, and they have played from behind in every game of the series.

They also got to Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger, who looked impenetrable in the two games in Denver when he allowed just one goal each night. His teammates aren't worried about him going forward.

"He's probably the mentally toughest guy in this locker room. I know it's the hardest job in hockey to be a goalie," Stars forward Jason Robertson said. "He takes a lot of pride in his work. He's very mentally tough. He's going to flush it away and get ready for the next game."

One thing that helped the Avalanche was the absence of Stars first-line center Roope Hintz, who has been instrumental in slowing down Colorado's top line. Hintz exited Game 4 with an upper-body injury, then sat out Game 5 while Radek Faska returned after sitting the previous three games.

Hintz was ruled out for Game 6 on Friday. Head coach Peter DeBoer said he is hopeful Hintz can return for either Game 7 of this series or the first game of the conference finals.

Dallas defenseman Chris Tanev is also banged up but showed his true hockey grit when he had a tooth pulled during Game 5. He returned to the ice after missing two shifts.

The Avalanche bounced back on Wednesday from a flat performance on Monday, with the latter possibly attributed to the news that broke close to puck drop that forward Valeri Nichushkin was placed in Stage 3 of the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.

Nichushkin, who leads the team with nine goals in the postseason, is suspended for a minimum of six months without pay. Colorado was outshot 16-2 in the first period on Monday and never recovered against a disciplined Stars team, falling 5-1.

The Avalanche's blue line got a boost on Wednesday with the return of Devon Toews, who missed Game 4 with an illness, but could be without forward Yakov Trenin, who exited Game 5 in the first period with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day.

Colorado overcame Trenin's injury and a pair of one-goal deficits to tie it late in the second period and scored three more times in the third. Colorado played with urgency and was rewarded. The Avalanche have to keep up that mentality to send the series back to Dallas, defenseman Cale Makar said after scoring twice in the Game 5 win.

"Do-or-die games from here on out in this series," he said. "You're playing desperate hockey now. Everybody's got to play on the edge. You've got to fight for every single chance you're getting now (with) it being an elimination game."

--Field Level Media