Rookie defenceman Cale Makar scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, third-string goaltender Michael Hutchinson stopped 27 shots and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Wednesday night to force a decisive Game 7 in their second-round playoff series.
Game 7 is Friday.
The 30-year-old Hutchinson was back in net with starter Philipp Grubauer and backup Pavel Francouz both sidelined. It was just Hutchinson’s second career NHL playoff start — and second win.
Miro Heiskanen scored for the Stars, while Anton Khudobin made 20 saves.
WATCH | Makar scores winner as Avs down Stars:
Both teams lost in Game 7 last season in the second round. Colorado is attempting to advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2002. The Stars last went in 2008.
This marked the first time in the high-scoring series the winning team didn’t net at least five goals.
Colorado increased its lead to 3-1 on a goal by Rantanen that was set up on a flip pass from MacKinnon with 16:39 remaining.
MacKinnon’s goal and assist give him at least a point in all 14 games this post-season. His 25 post-season points (nine goals, 16 assists) this season are the most by an Avalanche skater in a single post-season since Peter Forsberg had 27 in 2002.
Makar put Colorado up 2-1 midway through the second period by dropping down from the blue line, taking a pass from Rantanen and sailing the puck past Khudobin. Makar’s 15 points this post-season are the most by a rookie defenceman in Stanley Cup playoffs history. Right on his heels, though, is Quinn Hughes, who has 14 points for Vancouver.
A banged-up Colorado squad saw captain Gabriel Landeskog limp off the ice after taking a skate to his right leg late in the second period. He briefly returned in the third. The Avalanche also had Conor Timmins leave the game.
Heiskanen scored the game’s first goal late in the opening period when his shot glanced off the glove of Hutchinson and into the net. The 21-year-old Heiskanen leads all defencemen with 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) during the post-season.
Dallas’ advantage lasted less than two minutes as Colorado tied it up on Zadorov’s goal. Just before the shot, Jamie Oleksiak pushed J.T. Compher into Khudobin, who never got a good look at the puck.
The Stars weathered what could’ve been disaster in spending six minutes inside the penalty box. Blake Comeau drew a four-minute, double-minor after catching Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the head with a high stick. Oleksiak also drew a penalty for holding.