Nazem Kadri scored the go-ahead goal with 6:06 remaining in a wild third period as the Colorado Avalanche regrouped to beat the Dallas Stars 6-4 in Game 3 on Wednesday night.
Dallas has a 2-1 advantage in the second-round series. Game 4 will be Friday.
Leading 3-1 in the third, Colorado saw the Stars rally for three straight goals, including one that caromed into the net off the leg of Jamie Benn to put Dallas up.
Mikko Rantanen and Kadri responded with goals 1:52 apart to give the Avalanche back a 5-4 advantage. Kadri tipped in the winner off a pass from Kevin Connauton.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare added a late empty-netter to seal the win. This was Bellemare’s first playoff goal.
“It’s a character win,” Kadri said. “It would’ve been easy for us to get down on ourselves. We’re pretty comfortable playing in every situation. Obviously, blowing the lead, it wasn’t our best. But this is a game that could definitely give us some moment and hopefully change the series.”
Before the game, there was talk about whether the NHL should take the ice after the NBA and other professional sports leagues postponed games to protest racial injustice.
It crossed the mind of Kadri.
“We support and applaud the NBA,” Kadri said. “I understand this is a problem that’s gone on for far too long ... Eventually words get stale. It’s about action and making a difference.”
Stars forward Tyler Seguin said he didn’t realize what was going on with the NBA until he arrived at the rink.
“I support what’s going on, I support the movement,” said Seguin, who had a first-period goal. “And I think hockey needs honestly to do more. But I think we can all show our actions in different ways.”
Nikita Zadorov, Andre Burakovsky and Gabriel Landeskog scored for Colorado as part of a three-goal second period.
Pavel Francouz stopped 33 shots for the Avalanche.
“We stuck to it. We stuck to our game plan,” said Cale Makar, who had three assists. “I know everybody believes in this group.”
Nathan MacKinnon had two assists to give him at least a point in all 11 post-season games for Colorado. It’s the longest post-season points streak in franchise history, breaking a tie with Joe Sakic (1996) and Marian Stastny (1982).
The speedy MacKinnon leads the post-season in points (seven goals, 13 assists).
Denis Gurianov, Blake Comeau and Benn scored in the third as Dallas nearly pulled off another comeback win. The Stars saw their five-game winning streak halted.
“Pretty crazy,” Benn said of the third period. “Obviously being down two goals, going into the third, you’ve got to make a push. I thought we had a good one. The ups and downs, and back and forth of the playoffs. ... I liked our push, but we needed it for 60 minutes.”
Anton Khudobin made 26 saves for Dallas.
Zadorov and Burakovsky scored 3:41 apart in the second period to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead. Makar did his best MacKinnon impression to set up the third goal, flying into the zone and making a nifty move that Khudobin knocked away. Landeskog was there to put in the rebound.
Zadorov was knocked into the boards during the second period and didn’t take another shift. He sat on the bench for the third period.
Seguin scored the first goal of the game in the opening period on a pass by Jamie Benn from behind the net. Miro Heiskanen also had an assist on the play, giving him 15 points for the playoffs.
Colorado held a meeting Tuesday to try and get back on track. Something clicked.
“There are twists and turns to (the playoffs). There are ups and downs,” coach Jared Bednar said. “The team that wins is the team that’s mentally strong and can adapt and overcome things put in their path.”
The Avalanche remain without No. 1 goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenceman Erik Johnson due to undisclosed ailments. Forward Matt Calvert was a scratch as well with an injury. Calvert has yet to play in the series.
Stars coach Rick Bowness knew this would be a tight series.
“There’s no chance we thought we were going to sweep this hockey club,” Bowness said. “It’s a very good team over there. ... There’s not much separating the two teams, and that game tonight showed it.”
Stars G Ben Bishop recently skated. Bowness said both Bishop and D Stephen Johns remain unfit to play. ... Heiskanen took a big hit near the end of the game on a cross-check. “Miro is a tough competitor and I think he’s OK,” Bowness said ... Avs RW Joonas Donskoi was a late scratch. Logan O’Connor made his NHL post-season debut in Donskoi’s place.