Avalanche go for home sweep of Stars (Dec 03, 2017)

The Colorado Avalanche always seem to be catching the Dallas Stars at the right time. The last time Dallas was in town it came on the second of a back-to-back, and the Avalanche won 3-0 on Nov. 22.

Sunday night, Colorado hosts the Stars a night after they beat Chicago 3-2 in a shootout in Dallas. It’s the third time in the first 26 games the Stars have played in Denver, and it will be the last.

They are hoping for a different result than the first two times. Colorado is 2-0 against Dallas at home, and will be looking to turn things around after a 2-1 loss to New Jersey on Friday night.

The Avalanche will be without captain Gabe Landeskog for a third straight contest as he serves a four-game suspension for his hit to the head of Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk. Colorado coach Jared Bednar has been searching for a good fit for Laneskog’s spot on the top line, and will try his third different lineup to start the game.

Sven Andrighetto started at left wing in the win over Winnipeg on Wednesday, but Nail Yakupov was with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen at the start of Friday’s game.

Bednar switched things up and put J.T. Compher on the left side of the top line, and scored the lone goal against New Jersey. Compher will likely be there, at least to start, against Dallas.

“I liked him there (Friday) night,” Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com after practice Saturday. “I like the way he skates and helps to push the pace on that line.”

Compher is a natural center but said playing on left wing with MacKinnon and Rantanen was a smooth transition.

“The way our system is, I can just read off guys,” he told HockeyBuzz.com. “They were really good with me, telling me to play my game. That’s why I was put there, to play fast and move the puck so those guys get scoring chances. I tried not to change anything, just read off them and do what I can to help them out.”

Colorado (12-10-2) will start Jonathan Bernier in net. He played four straight games when Semyon Varlamov was ill. He returned Wednesday against the Jets.

The Avalanche have played well at home this season — they are 8-3-1, with the overtime loss coming in Sweden against Ottawa, which was technically a home game. Dallas (15-10-1) has struggled on the road, going 5-8-1, but played well in its last outing against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Stars shut out the expansion team 3-0 and has something to build on.

“We have to play a good checking game,” captain Jamie Benn told The Dallas Morning News about playing on the road. “It starts there, and then you just play smart, and you build on that. When we stick to our game plan and play the right way, we usually do pretty well.”

The Stars have been battling injuries and illness. Center Martin Hanzal is going to miss several games with a hamstring injury suffered Tuesday against the Golden Knights and left wing Antoine Roussel missed Saturday’s game with an illness.

They were able to pull it out with shootout goals by Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin and big saves on Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews by Ben Bishop.

The trick is to carry that home success on the road. Dallas is 10-0-2 at American Airlines Arena after sweeping a home-and-home series with the Blackhawks.

“It’s how you deal with adversity,” Stars coach Ken Hitchcock told The Dallas Morning News. “You can build or you can crumble, and we’re building.”