Stastny Atones for Mistake with Career Night

A first-period defensive miscue lights fire for forward's fifth four-point game

Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 12:21 AM
Scott Ward

Paul Stastny was in the right place at the right time four times Monday night at Pepsi Center, and his fifth career four-plus-point game led the Avalanche past Dallas 6-2.

Stastny had a pair of second-period goals—his ninth and 10th of the season—and he assisted on goals in the second and third period to account for at least four points for the first time since Dec. 2, 2009.

Still, afterward his biggest takeaway was the play he didn’t make.

With the Avalanche ahead 1-0 and with less than a minute remaining in the first period, Dallas’ Kevin Connauton slipped behind Stastny on the left side of the Colorado zone and tied the game 1-1 with a tip-in shot off a pass from teammate Tyler Seguin.

It was Connauton’s first NHL goal, and he was the defensive responsibility of Stastny, who just lost him down the left side.

Stastny said he was thinking about that defensive miscue during the entire first intermission. All he wanted to do was make good.

“What really bugged me was that first [Dallas] goal—that was my fault, that was my guy” he said. “I lost him, and that kind of set the tone and really got me going a little bit. I wanted to get it back, and to get one or two was big for us.”

Stastny’s first score came at 8:29 in the second period off a slick right-side wall pass from Maxime Talbot, who slipped it across the ice and toward the crease. Stastny was waiting with a tip-in, reminiscent of Connauton’s score, and he notched his 23rd career game winner.

Stastny then put Colorado ahead 4-1 at 16:32 in the second when he redirected a Gabriel Landeskog shot from the blue line, and the puck got past Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen, who allowed four goals for the second straight game.

Stastny later assisted on Erik Johnson’s third goal of the season and also dished out a helper on Tyson Barrie’s first tally of the year.

The last Avalanche player to have four points in a game was Matt Duchene, who did it in March against Chicago. Stastny’s matching performance Monday helped Colorado tie a season high with six goals (6-1 win against Anaheim on Opening Night).

“It was a big game,” Stastny said. “Anytime you play a back-to-back, home-and-home, it’s good to get the first win.”

The Avs let fly a season-high 48 shots, which is their most since Nov. 10, 2011. That likely had to do with a charge from Avalanche coach Patrick Roy to start creating traffic and shots around the net. Roy knew good things would happen if his players did.

Stastny had just four of Colorado’s 48 shots, but he personified Roy’s words. His two scores and two assists all happened because he or his teammates put near-crease pressure on Lehtonen.

“Where were they? Right in front of the net,” Roy responded in his postgame news conference when asked about his team’s offensive outburst. “This is where we have to be. Great tip by Paul—I was happy for him to score two—but he was in the paint both times. You have to be there. This is where you have to be.”

MacKINNON’S SEVENTH STARTS GOAL RUSH

Nathan MacKinnon scored his seventh goal of the season at 10:38 of the first period, when Duchene caught him in stride down the left wing. He waited for a slight opening from Lehtonen before letting lose from the left circle.

Lehtonen got caught in between, and MacKinnon’s shot had enough force to clip Lehtonen on the left padding, hit the net and bounce back into the slot.

“I didn’t think I had as much cushion as I did,” said MacKinnon who had a one-on-one with Lehtonen following Duchene’s pass. “At first I kind of pump faked, and then I realized I had some time. Thankfully, it went in.”

Defenseman Cory Sarich passed to Duchene for an assist on score, giving Sarich points (zero goals/four assists) in a career-high four straight games and assists in a career-high four straight games.

Sarich now has nine points on the season, his most since he scored 13 in the 2010-11 season with Calgary.

“I never really concentrate on the offensive side of my game,” Sarich said. “It just kind of comes and goes. [I’ve] just been trying to contribute, though, defensively, and I’ve just been trying to hold pucks in at the blue line and help pinch and do things like that, and some of those plays have helped result in points and goals for us.”

POSTGAME NOTEBOOK

- PA Parenteau tied his career high with three assists, now down three times. His three points also matched a career high, done seven times.

- Tonight’s game was the third of five this season between Dallas and Colorado, with the final two coming in Texas: tomorrow night (6:30 p.m. MT) and Jan. 27.

Colorado improved to 3-0-0 against Dallas this season and 2-0-0 at home. The Avs moved to 10 points ahead of the Stars (45 to 35) in the Central Division standings.

- The Avalanche is in the middle of its fourth of 10 back-to-back series this season, and they’ve treated it well so far. The Avs are 6-1 overall in their back-to-backs, including a 3-1 mark in the first game and a 3-0 mark in the second.

“You’re used to back-to-backs on the road, where you fly from one spot to another, so I guess this isn’t a whole lot different, but when you’re playing the same opponent two nights in a row I guess that has a little different feel to it,” Sarich said.

- Defensemen Nick Holden and Ryan Wilson and forward Brad Malone were Colorado’s scratches.

Roy had said Sunday that Wilson would miss Monday’s game but would likely travel with the team to Texas on Monday night. He said Monday morning, though, that Wilson will instead stay in Denver and continue to work on his conditioning as he readies for a return from a back injury.

- Forward Alex Tanguay (knee/hip) remains on injured reserve and continues to be out indefinitely.

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