Stars get another crack at Avalanche
Dallas coach Jim Montgomery had his return to Denver spoiled three weeks ago, but he gets another shot at leading the Stars to a win in the city where he made his mark with the University of Denver for five seasons.
Montgomery’s Stars fell to the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in a Nov. 23 game that they led with less than three minutes to go. Two late goals flipped the script, but they want to exact revenge when the teams meet again on Saturday night at Pepsi Center.
For Dallas, losing in the third period against Colorado has become a season-long trend. The Stars are 2-6-2 in games in which they are tied after 40 minutes. It’s a big reason they are 16-13-3 more than a third through 2018-19.
“I didn’t know that stat, so I guess that’s something we have to correct,” veteran Blake Comeau told NHL.com after Thursday’s loss at San Jose. “Any time you go into a game, especially on the road, you’ve got to find a way just to grind it out and at least come away with a point.
“We’ve had some games where we’ve had leads going into the third or we’re tied in the third and we come away with nothing, so that’s something we definitely have to get better at. We have to be a team that can close games out.”
Dallas has a built-in advantage going into Saturday night. While Colorado was losing 4-3 in overtime in St. Louis on Friday night, the Stars were kicking back in their Denver hotel.
They also added another player to the roster with the recall of forward Denis Gurianov from the Texas Stars of the AHL.
Gurianov, 21, was fourth in the AHL in scoring at the time of his call-up with nine goals and 19 assists. Gurianov joins 19-year-old defenseman Miro Heiskanen on the roster, giving Dallas two solid young players.
Heiskanen, the third overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft, is averaging 23 minutes of ice time this season and has 15 points from the blue line.
The Avalanche boast several good, young players, too, starting with the leading scorer in the NHL in 22-year-old forward Mikko Rantanen. Rantanen has 53 points and his linemate, center Nathan MacKinnon, is second with 48 points.
The other player on that line, captain Gabe Landeskog, has 19 goals and 19 assists, giving Colorado one of the most formidable lines in the NHL.
They have led the Avalanche (17-9-6) to near the top of the Central Division but have stumbled a bit after a 9-0-2 stretch.
No. 1 goaltender Semyon Varlamov has been pulled from his last two starts and has allowed 14 goals in the last four games.
“I wish I could say it’s just one thing and we go and fix it,” Stars coach Jared Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com after practice Thursday. “It’s really not; it’s our whole game, really. When you’re a step slow, we don’t look as good. When we’re not playing with the pace and tempo and intent to play a north game, we don’t look as good.”
Varlamov will likely be in net Saturday after Philipp Grubauer started against the Blues.