Although they still trail their best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series with the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche will take momentum into Game 4 on Sunday in Edmonton.
Colorado squandered a 3-1 lead in Game 3 on Wednesday and was looking squarely at a 3-0 series deficit after captain Jamie Benn gave Dallas a 4-3 advantage with 9:13 remaining in the third period.
The Avalanche quickly answered with goals by Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri before Pierre-Edouard Bellemare sealed the 6-4 win with an empty-net goal.
“Now we’ve got ourselves a series,” Colorado forward Gabriel Landeskog said. “Obviously, we understood how big this game was going to be tonight and how pivotal it can be.”
“I think it’s a character win,” added Kadri, whose seventh playoff goal proved to be the game-winner.
“It would have been easy to get down on ourselves, but we understand that we can score goals in the dressing room. We’re pretty comfortable playing every situation. Obviously blowing the lead, it wasn’t our best, but it was a game that could definitely give us momentum and hopefully change the series.”
It snapped a five-game win streak for Dallas which won Game 1, 5-3, and rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to take Game 2, 5-2.
“Listen, (when) we went into this, there’s no chance we thought we were going to sweep this club,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “It’s a very good team over there. We knew it was probably going to be a six-, seven-game series. Hopefully, we don’t get there, but if we get there, we get there. We’re not going to dominate that hockey club, they’re too good, they’re too talented.”
“Pretty crazy,” Benn said of the wild six-goal third period. “Obviously being down two goals going into the third, you got to make a push, and I thought we made a great one. Back and forth, the ups and downs of the playoffs, we had them on the ropes. They’re a good team; they came back, scored a couple of quick ones, and that was that. I liked our push, but we need it for 60 minutes.”
The two teams have had a three-day break to digest things thanks to the postponement of games on Thursday and Friday for the protest movement in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. Now they’ll have to play back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday night. If a Game 6 is necessary, it’s scheduled for Wednesday night meaning a stretch of three games in four nights.
“We’ll respond,” Bowness said matter-of-factly. “We’ve responded all year to challenges like we faced (Wednesday night). I’m very confident in that room, and in the leadership and the character of our players and their desire to win, and I’m very confident we’ll respond in the next game.”
Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon will take a franchise playoff-record 11-game point streak into Sunday’s contest. MacKinnon, who broke the previous mark of 10 games held by Joe Sakic (1996) and Marian Stastny (1982), has scored seven goals to go with 13 assists, and his 20 points lead the NHL in the playoffs.
–Field Level Media