3 Keys: Stars vs. Avalanche, Game 5 of Western Second Round

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No. 3 Dallas Stars vs. No. 2 Colorado Avalanche

9:45 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, SN

Dallas leads best of 7 series 3-1

The Colorado Avalanche did not announce their starting goalie for when they try to avoid elimination against the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Monday.

Pavel Francouz was pulled after allowing five goals on 26 shots in Colorado’s 5-4 loss in Game 4 on Sunday. He was replaced by Michael Hutchinson, who saved all three shots he faced in 9:21.

“He’s got to be better, for sure,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Sunday. “(The Stars are) making it hard on him, on the power plays especially, but we’ve seen [Francouz] be way better.”

Francouz has started every game for the Avalanche since goalie Philipp Grubauer was ruled out indefinitely with an injury sustained in Game 1. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information. 

Goalie Anton Khudobin will start for the Stars, who will look to advance to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2008. They are 10-1 in Stars/Minnesota North Stars history when leading a best-of-7 series 3-1.

Teams with a 3-1 lead are 284-29 (90.7 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series, including 6-0 in the first round this season.

Here are 3 keys to Game 5:

 

1. Defenseman scoring

Stars defensemen have been active and productive, combining for 36 points (nine goals, 27 assists) in the postseason.

“A lot of players are feeling really good about their game right now and that’s why we’re such a confident group,” John Klingberg said after he had one goal and one assist in Game 4. “It’s something that we were talking about to start of camp in August, we wanted the (defense) to be more involved, get more O-zone time and that’s one of the keys to why you’re seeing more offense. When we get a good start like this, we know they are going to play some risk in their game.”

 

2. Improving in front of the net

The Avalanche have allowed 19 goals in four games and said they’re not helping their goaltending enough in this series.

“[Francouz is] a great goalie and [Hutchinson] is a proven NHL goalie as well, so it’s not on them,” forward Nathan MacKinnon said. “It’s on us to give them easy saves, easy looks. We’re letting their big bodies stand in front of the net and tip pucks unharmed right now. We can win more battles, be more mean in our crease, help those guys out.”

 

3. Finding power

The Stars won the special-teams battle in Game 4, scoring three power-play goals on six opportunities. They’ve scored 11 goals on 44 chances (25 percent) with the man-advantage this postseason.

“(We’re) moving the puck around quick and trying to attack the goal,” Stars forward Jamie Benn said. “(Defenseman Miro Heiskanen’s) unit, they do a great job of moving the puck around, getting their shots. We try to do the same thing and obviously try to be the difference in the hockey game.”

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn — Tyler SeguinAlexander Radulov

Mattias JanmarkJoe PavelskiDenis Gurianov

Jason DickinsonRoope HintzCorey Perry

Andrew CoglianoRadek FaksaBlake Comeau

Esa Lindell — John Klingberg

Jamie OleksiakMiro Heiskanen

Andrej SekeraTaylor Fedun

Anton Khudobin

Jake Oettinger

Scratched: Nick Caamano, Ty Dellandrea, Justin Dowling, Joel Kiviranta, Jason Robertson, Gavin Bayreuther, Joel Hanley, Thomas Harley, Landon Bow

Unfit to play: Stephen Johns, Ben Bishop

 

Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen

Andre BurakovskyNazem KadriValeri Nichushkin

Tyson JostJ.T. CompherVladislav Namestnikov

Matt Nieto — Pierre- Edouard Bellemare — Logan O’Connor

Ryan GravesCale Makar

Samuel GirardIan Cole

Nikita ZadorovKevin Connauton

Pavel Francouz

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Shane Bowers, Bowen Byram, Sheldon Dries, Anton Lindholm, Logan O’Connor, Conor Timmins, T.J. Tynan

Unfit to play: Philipp Grubauer, Erik Johnson, Matt Calvert, Joonas Donskoi

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