Michael Hutchinson stopped 27-of-28 shots and Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 14 games with a goal and an assists as the Avalanche beat the Stars 4-1 Wednesday night to force a Game 7 in the teams’ Western Conference semifinals series.
It marks the first time in Colorado has ever forced a Game 7 after being down 3-1 in a playoff series. Game 7 is scheduled for Friday night, with the time of the game yet to be announced.
“We battled back, had a good second (period) and really locked it down in the third. We were really responsible defensively. No turnovers, and just a solid game from everyone in the lineup.”MacKinnon said after the Avs’ win.
How the Avs won
Colorado fell behind late in the first period when Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen scored with 2:25 seconds to play. Colorado answered with arguably the biggest goal of the game when Nikita Zadorov scored with only 32 seconds to go, sending the teams into the first intermission locked up at 1-1.
Cale Makar scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal at the 7:48 mark of the second period on assists from Mikko Rantanen and Sam Girard. Makar was crashing the net after a shot attempt by Girard. The rebound came to Rantanen who flip it to Makar. Makar promptly banged the puck off the face mask of Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin and into the net.
Colorado got a big insurance goal early in the third period when MacKinnon delivered a picture-perfect pass over the stick of a Stars defender and Rantanen hammered it past a sprawling Khudobin. MacKinnon scored the final goal late in the period after Dallas had pulled Khudobin for an extra attacker.
Makar makes history
Makar’s goal in the second period gave him 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) so far in the postseason, setting a new record for the most points by a rookie defenseman in the NHL playoffs.
It is obviously a great accomplishment for Makar, but one that’s a little misleading if we’re being honest. Makar played in 10 playoff games last season for Colorado and then 57 regular season games this season. Add in the five-month layoff during the pandemic and simply put it’s hard to consider him a rookie at this point.
Hutchinson saves Avs’ season
As The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla wrote, Hutchinson, Colorado’s third-string goalie, has become the most unlikely of miracle workers in Denver sports since Tim Tebow.
Through the first four games of the series Dallas was averaging almost five goals a game. But since Hutchinson replaced Pavel Francouz in net, who had replaced an injured Philipp Grubauer, the Stars have managed just four goals total in Games 5 and 6.
There’s not telling how long the magic will last, but in a year that has seen plenty of disappointments, Hutchinson gives hope to any of us struggling out there. He had this to say when asked if he worried he’d never get his shot:
“Numerous times in my career. My career has been a long journey … There’s always moments when you get sent down that you think you’re never going to play another NHL game.”
Avs history in Game 7s
After being down 3-1 in the series, the Avs have accomplished something just by getting to a winner-take-all game. Now the real challenge becomes winning it.
The Avs are 4-7 in Game 7s since moving from Quebec to Colorado prior to the 1995-96 season, including losing last year to San Jose in Game 7 in the second round last year. In fact Colorado has lost the past four Game 7s its played in. The Avs last Game 7 victory came in the Western Conference semifinals against the Sharks back in 2002.
“In terms of Game 7, it’s my third one. I guess I haven’t won one yet. Looking to change that in a couple days here. Excited for the challenge. It’s going to be the toughest game for us to win.”MacKinnon had to say after Wednesday night’s game.
Dallas has lost the past three Games 7s it has played in, including in last year’s playoffs. The Stars got bounced in semifinals as well, when St. Louis knocked them off 2-1 in double overtime.
“I mean, we all know what happened last year. We were in this position, a chance to win it in Game 6, on home ice. Technically, you could say tonight was home ice. Game 7, we lost last year. So we have a chance to redeem ourselves. I definitely do think, as an organization, we’ve been trending in the right way, and this is the next step. It’s going to be a big one for us in a couple of days.”Dallas forward Tyler Seguin said.
Game 6 highlights
Avalanche-Stars series results and schedule
|Game 1||Dallas 5, Colorado 3||Box score|
|Game 2||Dallas 5, Colorado 2||Box score|
|Game 3||Colorado 6, Dallas 4||Box score|
|Game 4||Dallas 5, Colorado 4||Box score|
|Game 5||Colorado 6, Dallas 3||Box score|
|Game 6||Colorado 4, Dallas 1||Box score|
|Date||Time (MT)||Home team||TV|
|Fri., Sept. 4||2 p.m.||Colorado||USA|
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