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Nathan MacKinnon, Alexandar Georgiev help Avalanche cruise to much-needed win against Stars

Corey Masisak, The Denver Post on

Published in Hockey

The Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars might be headed for a showdown in one of the first two rounds of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And while regular-season matchups are largely irrelevant once the postseason begins, the Avs have found a way to play three of their best games this year against their Central Division rivals.

Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist to help the Avalanche cruise past the Stars in a critical contest for the home team Tuesday night inside Ball Arena. Andrew Cogliano also had a goal and an assist, while Alexandar Georgiev outplayed his Dallas counterpart Jake Oettinger in a 5-1 victory.

The Avs certainly needed this one. They entered the day four points behind the Stars in the Central, with a game in hand. Both teams could end the year looking up at the Winnipeg Jets, who have at least three game in hand on each of them.

Regardless, grabbing home-ice advantage for at least one round could be valuable. The Avs are an NHL-best 23-6-0 at home this season. This was also Colorado’s third win in three tries against Dallas, securing a head-to-head tiebreaker as well. The two clubs will play here again in early April.

Dallas lost in overtime Monday night, so Colorado was the more rested team. It didn’t look like it early in the second period, but then Avalanche put this one away with three goals on just six shots in the middle frame.

MacKinnon is now 29-for-29 with at least one point in every home game. He’s now two shy of his second career 100-point campaign.

The Stars had chances to tie this contest at two early in the second period. Dallas had the first seven shots of the period, but Georgiev kept the Stars at bay, and then Colorado blew it open with two goals in 49 seconds.

Cogliano led a 2-on-1 out of a scrum in the neutral zone, but decided to keep it himself and snapped a shot over Oettinger’s left shoulder. MacKinnon got behind the defense and flipped a backhanded attempt over Oettinger’s right shoulder on the next shift and it was suddenly a 4-1 lead.

 

Colorado’s power play has struggled of late, and it looked out of sync again for about 50 seconds during the Avs’ first opportunity. Then some magic happened.

It started with a nifty zone entry, MacKinnon wheeling the puck to Jonathan Drouin to gain the blue line. He left it for Mikko Rantanen, and eventually Artturi Lehkonen finished a perfect tic-tac-toe passing play, with Drouin authoring a brilliant one-touch pass to set up the score.

Dallas scored on the first shot of the game, exactly 60 seconds in. Rookie Logan Stankoven collected his second career goal on a feed from fellow 2021 draft pick Wyatt Johnston.

The Avalanche answered two shifts later. A pair of former Stars hooked up, with Joel Kiviranta slapping a one-timer on a cross-ice pass from Cogliano at 2:08 of the first period.

Colorado grabbed the lead before the period was six minutes old with a tenacious shift from the top line. All three forwards had a shot attempt in a span of six seconds, with Rantanen tapping the rebound of MacKinnon’s second shot in the flurry across the goal line.

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