Avs shoot down Stars 4-1 to force game seven in NHL playoff series


Los Angeles (AFP)

Rookie defenseman Cale Makar scored the go-ahead goal in the second period Wednesday as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 4-1 to force a deciding game seven in their NHL playoff series.

The Avs leveled the second-round series in the NHL's Covid-19 quarantine hub in Edmonton at three games apiece, fending off elimination for the second straight game.

Colorado goalie Michael Hutchinson, in the net with starter Philipp Grubauer and backup Pavel Francouz sidelined, stopped 27 shots in his second career playoff start.

Nikita Zadorov and Mikko Rantanen scored, and Nathan MacKinnon added an empty-net goal and an assist for the Avalanche, extending his point-scoring streak to 14 games.

MacKinnon was under no illusions when it came to the difficulty of the task still awaiting the Avs in game seven on Friday.

"In terms of game seven, it's my third one," MacKinnon said. "I guess I haven't won one yet. Looking to change that in a couple days here. Excited for the challenge. It's going to be the toughest game for us to win."

Miro Heiskanen scored for the Stars, who had 20 saves from goalie Anton Khudobin.

Makar put the Avalanche ahead 2-1 at 7:48 of the second period. He took a pass from Rantanen and fired past Khudobin.

Heiskanen opened the scoring at 17:35 of the first period with a shot off the glove of Hutchinson.

Zadorov made it 1-1 with a shot through traffic with 32 seconds left in the first.

The already battered Avalanche got another injury scare in the second period when captain Gabriel Landeskog suffered a cut above his right knee when he was caught by the skate blade of Makar.

Landeskog was able to get off the ice and limp to the dressing room. He returned during the third period and skated one brief shift.

"I'm not really too sure how or what cut it, but obviously he is a big loss," Makar said. "We saw him out there at the end, so hopefully he can get back to 100 per cent if he isn't already and be ready for the next game."

The Stars go into game seven seeking redemption -- having let slip a 3-2 series lead against the St. Louis Blues last season on the way to a second-round exit.

"We all know what happened last year," Stars forward Tyler Seguin said. "We were in this position, a chance to win it in game six on home ice ... game seven we lost last year.

"It's going to be a big one for us in a couple of days."