Sports Minute: After 7-goal surge in clincher, Dallas advances to face Avs
By STEPHEN HAWKINSAP Sports Writer
Joe Pavelski was starting to get up off the ice after being knocked down in the front of the net when a puck came whizzing toward his head.
“Saw this black thing coming my way and just trying to get out of the way,” said Pavelski, the veteran center who in his first playoff series with the Dallas Stars was part of another big comeback clincher.
For the first time since 1998-2001, a stretch that included their only Stanley Cup title in 1999, the Stars have won playoff series in consecutive seasons. They will face Colorado in the second round in the NHL's Western Conference bubble in Edmonton, Alberta.
Pavelski ducked out of the way of rookie teammate Denis Gurianov's wrister, the puck skimming over the right shoulder of the bent-over former San Jose captain to ignite the big Dallas surge. It was the first of Gurianov’s three goals in the second period, and four overall for the Stars in a 7-3 win over the Calgary Flames in Game 6 on Thursday night, when Dallas was down three goals even before its first shot.
“If we’re talking about comebacks, I mean, obviously, last year in the Game 7 against Vegas, that’s got to be up there,” Pavelski said. “You play enough playoff games, you see a few things, and this one is right there with it. But this just feels good to win.”
San Jose was down 3-0 midway through the third period in Game 7 of the opening round in last year’s playoffs when Pavelski went down on the ice bleeding after being cross-checked by Golden Knights center Cody Eakin during a faceoff. That drew a major penalty and the Sharks scored four goals during the five-minute power play, then won 5-4 in overtime.
Pavelski signed a three-year deal with Dallas as a free agent last summer after 12 playoff appearances in 13 seasons with San Jose. He had a hat trick in Game 4 and added a goal with two assists during the five-goal second period in the clincher the Stars, the first NHL team to overcome a three-goal deficit and win a playoff game by four goals.
The Stars got an encouraging boost from Miro Heiskanen scored on a power play midway through the first period. The 21-year-old added three assists after that. His four points were a franchise record for a defenseman in a playoff game, and his 12 points (three goals, nine assists) overall are the second-most by anyone in the league this postseason.
Interim head coach Rick Bowness described the opening of Game 6 as “a mess,” but he was calm during a timeout, telling the Stars they just needed to get the next goal. They scored the next seven.
“It was frustrating, but we knew if we’d score one goal, we’d be right on them,” said Radek Faska, whose tiebreaking power play goal came on an assist from Gurianov. “We showed lots of character, and after that, I think we dominated the game.”
With Ben Bishop again unfit to play, after starting all 13 Stars playoff games last season, Anton Khudobin stopped the last 34 shots he faced in Game 6 after giving up three goals in the first seven shots. Khudobin, in net for five games against Calgary, had never started a postseason game before this year.
“Regroup and just keep going. Luckily, it went that way,” Khudobin said. “After the first (playoff series) win … trust me, it feels good. It’s under my belt. But at the same time, I know what’s ahead of us.”
Before getting ready for the Avalanche, who had consecutive 7-1 wins to wrap up their first-round series against Arizona in five games, Bowness had a mandatory team trip planned Friday after more than three weeks inside the bubble. The Stars were going to the home stadium of Edmonton’s CFL team with frisbees and soccer balls just to be outside in the sun.
“I’ve gone a couple of days where I haven’t even gone outside because that’s the way we’re set up here, the hotel is connected to the rink. … You’ve really got to make a concerted effort just to get outside and get some fresh air,” Bowness said. “We’re getting out of that hotel for a little bit.”
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