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Stars-Avalanche Preview

Wednesday, 04.26.2006 / 5:30 PM

Associated Press

GAME: Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche.

PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; Avalanche lead 2-0.

TIME: Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. EDT.

Frustrated after blowing a three-goal lead and unable to generate scoring chances late in the third period Monday as they attempted to tie the game, the Colorado Avalanche appeared destined to return home tied after two games with the Dallas Stars.

Just a short time later, the Avs headed to their locker room with a 2-0 lead, while the stunned Stars faced the task of trying to get back in the first-round playoff series with the scene shifting to Denver.

Colorado looks to put a stranglehold on the series when the teams meet at the Pepsi Center for Game 3.

The Avalanche jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first period Monday night, only to see the Stars score four times in the second to take a 4-3 advantage into the final 20 minutes. Dallas clamped down and held Colorado to only four shots in the third, but one came on Brett Clark's short-handed redirection of a Milan Hejduk pass that beat the Stars' Marty Turco with 2:04 remaining.

The goal forced overtime, and seconds after Dallas' Jason Arnott hit the post behind Avs goalie Jose Theodore, Joe Sakic scored at 4:36 of the extra period to give the seventh-seeded Avs a 5-4 victory and a commanding series lead.

"I didn't do much," said Sakic, who passed Maurice "Rocket" Richard for most overtime goals in the playoffs with his seventh. "I was just trying to get a screen in there. (John-Michael Liles) shot it, and it just went off my stick."

The goal sent the Avalanche home with history overwhelmingly on their side. Colorado has won 11 straight playoff series after taking a 2-0 lead, including 2004 when they won the first two at home against Dallas before taking the series in five games.

The second-seeded Stars, who set a franchise record with 53 victories this season, haven't come back from an 0-2 deficit since their first playoff series in 1968.

"We dug ourselves out of a hole. That's the bright spot. But they just kept coming," said Dallas captain Mike Modano, whose power-play goal with 3 seconds left in the second period made it 4-3. "We came from behind all year and had solid finishes to games. To lose that one is tough."

The loss was particularly painful for the Stars because the Avs took penalties at 15:11 and 16:48 of the third period. Not only did Dallas fail to widen its lead on those power-play opportunities, it gave up Clark's tying score during the second minor.

"We hoped that maybe we could get a power play ourselves and get the equalizer," Avs coach Joel Quenneville said. "We got lucky."

The Stars also couldn't convert after Colorado's Rob Blake was called for delay of game at the 18:34 mark - briefly giving Dallas a two-man advantage and a chance to regain the lead.

"Whether it's Marty or the team, you can't win if you give up five in the playoffs," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said.

Turco, though, has had little success against Colorado in the postseason. He's allowed at least three goals in all seven of his playoff games against the Avs, and given up five goals four times. He's also allowed at least one first-period goal in each of those contests.

Blake, Andrew Brunette and Hejduk each had a goal and an assist in the first period for Colorado, which scored the last five goals in its 5-2 victory in Game 1 on Saturday.

Lehtinen scored a pair of goals 1:04 apart for the Stars in the second period, and Modano added a goal and an assist.

Game 4 is Friday night at the Pepsi Center.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Stars - 112 points; 2nd seed. Avalanche - 95 points; 7th seed.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Lehtinen, 2 goals; Brenden Morrow and Arnott, 2 assists; Morrow, 3 points; Niko Kapanen, 6 PIM. Avalanche - Hejduk, Clark and Blake, 2 goals; Hejduk, Brunette and Sakic, 3 assists; Hejduk, 5 points; Blake and Alex Tanguay, 6 PIM.

PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Avalanche - Power play: 27.3 percent (3 for 11). Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (11 for 13). Stars - Power play: 15.4 percent (2 for 13). Penalty killing: 72.7 percent (8 for 11).

GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - Theodore (2-0, 2.89 GAA); Peter Budaj (no appearances). Stars - Turco (0-2, 4.82); Johan Hedberg (no appearances).

2005-2006 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 30 '06COL 3 at DAL 2 - OTA. Brunette
Apr 28 '06DAL 4 at COL 1N. Hagman
Apr 26 '06DAL 3 at COL 4 - OTA. Tanguay
Apr 24 '06COL 5 at DAL 4 - OTJ. Sakic
Apr 22 '06COL 5 at DAL 2R. Blake
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
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