akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

DALLAS — Not only were the Colorado Avalanche pushed to the brink of elimination by a team called the Stars, it happened in large part because the stars of the team in the Mile High City were grounded, almost to the point of being no-shows for the past three games. Yet in the game where many expected the luster to dim completely for 2024, the Avalanche’s headline players shone the brightest to keep their season alive.

Defenseman Cale Makar scored twice while forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Artturi Lehkonen each had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche staved off elimination with a 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 5 inside American Airlines Center on Wednesday evening.

Makar recorded 12 points in Colorado’s first six playoff games this campaign, which saw the Avalanche defeat the Winnipeg Jets in five games and take the first game of this series. But as the Stars took control of the tie, winning the last three games (including Games 3 and 4 in Denver), neither Makar nor MacKinnon recorded a point in any of the three games while combining to be a minus-12 and seeing the Stars outscore Colorado 14-5 during that stretch.

Makar, however, was heard from on Wednesday, scoring a game-tying goal on the power play with 2:36 remaining in the second period to send the teams to the second intermission all square at 2-2 before scoring what eventually became the game-winner at 4:28 of the third to give Colorado a 4-2 advantage.

MacKinnon soon iced the game after finding himself open in the slot before firing a wrist shot past Stars goalkeeper Jake Oettinger with 3:10 remaining in the contest to give the Avalanche the two-goal cushion that it ended up winning by.

“[Our top guys] come up and play their best game of the series, and they get rewarded on skill plays that start with hard work from the group,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. “Their skills allow them to shine, and they were fantastic. Cale was outstanding, creating scoring chances, not just for his linemates but for himself, beating guys one-on-one. [Nathan MacKinnon] was the same way. In the power play, [he] steps up, tough go for a handful of games, but we win the special teams. It’s a huge response after goal one and after goal two [that we allowed]. It was a great team effort.”

Casey Mittelstadt scored 72 seconds into the third to give the Avalanche a 3-2 lead, which also marked the first lead that Colorado held in regulation in the series. (Colorado’s only lead of Game 1 came on Miles Wood’s overtime goal.)

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s contest, with photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 12 pictures in total.

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Tags : Colorado AvalancheDallas StarsNational Hockey LeagueStanley Cup Playoffs

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