The Stars did not allow their first shot on goal until 18:26 of the first period had elapsed, when Nazem Kadri shuffled a shot on Anton Khudobin. At that point of Game 4 on Sunday, Dallas had already built a 3-0 lead, put 10 shots on Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz, killed two penalties and registered 24 hits.
The Avalanche finished the period with the final five shots of the frame, but still trailed at the first intermission by three goals.
The fewest shots on goal the Stars allowed in a first period all season was two, and it came all the way back on Dec. 10 in Rick Bowness’ first game as the team’s interim coach. Twice in the postseason had Dallas allowed fewer than five shots on goal in a period, most recently in the second period of Game 3 against Calgary.
The Stars set the tone for the game on the very first shift of the first, when Andrew Cogliano, Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau laid three hits in the offensive zone against Colorado’s top line. Bowness has started Cogliano-Faksa-Comeau to begin each of the four games against the Avalanche this series.
“They love the role they have with our hockey club,” head coach Rick Bowness said. “They know their role is not only to shut the opposition line as best they can, but to give us some momentum. They give us momentum, structurally they’re very sound. They’re very consistent with what they do. They get it in. They finish their hits. They don’t give much up on the rush.”
Faksa said: “We wanted to answer the bell from the last game.”
Big mo changing colors: When momentum shifts in this series, it shifts massively.
The Stars and Avalanche have engaged in a series of runs through the first four games, with groups of goals coming at a time for each team. Since the start of Game 2, this is how it has looked: two goals for Colorado, six goals for Dallas, three for Colorado, three for Dallas, three for Colorado, three for Dallas, two for Colorado, two for Dallas, two for Colorado.
“It just seems like when one team gets one goal, it kind of gives them a boost,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “We found a way to get three quick ones early there. They’re a good team, they’re going to battle back. A lot of good forwards on that team with a lot of skill and speed. And then d-men that jump in the rush and join. They’re hard to handle. I’m not sure why it’s going back and forth like this, but it is. You just got to handle the momentum as it comes.”
Power play Perry: Corey Perry was an instrumental figure for the Stars on Sunday by drawing four penalties, as Dallas cashed in on one of the power plays Perry created. The Stars went 3 for 6 overall on the man-advantage.
“He plays hard and he goes to hard areas,” Bowness said. “Usually, when you go to hard areas, you going to be involved physically and you’re going to be involved in penalties, one way or the other. But he’s fearless.”
Perry was also flattened by Nathan MacKinnon in the second period (MacKinnon was called for interference) but took five shifts in the third period. After the game, Bowness said Perry was fine.
Denis the leader: Denis Gurianov is now tied for the league lead with eight goals in the postseason after scoring the game-winner on Sunday night. Gurianov deposited a clumsy Cale Makar turnover past Pavel Francouz to give Dallas a 5-2 lead 8:02 into the third period.
Gurianov’s eight goals are tied with Vancouver’s Bo Horvat. Gurianov led the Stars with 20 goals during the regular season.
Pick ’em: In a statistical quirk, seven of the nine goals scored on Sunday night were by Stars draft picks. All five goals scored by Dallas came from homegrown players, while 2013 first-round pick Valeri Nichushkin scored twice for Colorado. The Stars bought out Nichushkin last summer and he signed a one-year deal with the Avalanche.
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