Alexander Radulov had two goals and an assist as the top Dallas line finally came to life, and the Stars beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-3 on Saturday night to open the second-round Western Conference playoff series.
After that top line of Radulov, captain Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin had no points in the Stars’ seven-goal finale in the opening series, the trio combined for a goal four minutes into Game 1 against Colorado, and teamed up for another goal in the second period.
Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and had an assist for the Avalanche, who lost top goalie Philipp Grubauer to an injury early in the second period. Colorado defenceman Erik Johnson was severely limited after his right leg appeared to awkwardly turn midway through the first period, though returned for the start of the second before leaving the bench again late in the period.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Monday night.
Seguin opened the scoring with his first goal of this post-season, taking Benn’s pass from behind the net. Benn had three assists and Seguin also had an assist. The eight points by that top line were only two fewer than they combined for in the first nine post-season games.
Former Colorado player Blake Comeau and Roope Hintz also had their first goals of the post-season for the Stars. The shot by Hintz provided a cushion midway through the third period.
The Stars led 3-1 late in the first period after Benn got control of a bouncing puck for an odd-man rush. He made a cross-ice pass to Radulov, who then scored on a slight backhander through the legs of Grubauer.
Colorado’s goalie went face down on the ice after pushing away a shot with his right skate in the second period. He stayed that way for several moments before being helped off and replaced by Pavel Francouz, who had 27 saves in a 4-0 shutout over the Stars in round-robin play 2 1/2 weeks earlier in Edmonton.
After Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog got his first goal of the post-season, a nifty poke around the post after going past the net to get within 3-2 five minutes into the second period, Radulov got his second goal to restore the Stars’ two-goal lead right after coming back on the ice.
Radulov was behind the coverage and got in an odd-man rush with Seguin, whose hard shot ricocheted off Francouz. Radulov scored on the rebound for his fourth playoff goal.
Dallas never trailed, though MacKinnon got the puck from Landeskog and took a shot from above the circles that got past Khudobin to tie the game just more than a minute after Radulov’s first goal. Comeau put the Stars ahead to stay on his 57-foot shot that deflected off the stick of Avs defender Ryan Graves midway through the first.
Anton Khudobin had 28 saves for Dallas, including a sliding save when have to come all the way across the net to stop a shot by Landeskog with about seven minutes left in the first period. That came about a minute after defenceman John Klingberg knocked a puck away to keep Colorado’s Ian Cole from being to take advantage of an open net after a rebound.
Grubauer, who was 5-0-1 with a 1.49 goals against average and .937 save percentage coming in, allowed three goals on 10 shots. Francouz stopped 18 of 20 shots.