DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 19: Paul Stastny #26 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks to take a 1-0 lead in the first period at Pepsi Center on November 19, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.

Stastny likes changed Avs as he plays out contract season

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There’s no telling if 27-year-old center Paul Stastny will re-sign with the Colorado Avalanche before his five-year, $33 million contract expires this summer, but he’s having fun, which is more than he’s been able to say for a while.

“We were losing all the time. Things weren’t changing much. It was just bad in here,” Stastny told the Denver Post.

That has changed under new coach Patrick Roy and executive vice president Joe Sakic. The Avalanche are 20-7-0 going into tonight’s game against Vancouver. Even after their humiliating 8-2 loss to Edmonton on Thursday, they were able to bounce right back with a win against Calgary.

It’s more than just the fact that the team is winning games though. In the past, Stastny feels that if he wanted to bring up a concern, management’s response would be to tell him to play better.

“Well, yeah, I understand that,” Stastny said, “but in the past it was players on one side and management on the other side and there wasn’t much communication. We have more of a two-way street now.”

Of course, the fact that Stastny’s enjoying his time with Colorado doesn’t make him a lock to stay. For one thing, the Avalanche are already strong up the middle with Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon.

Plus there’s the matter of Stastny’s pay. He currently comes with a $6.6 million annual cap hit, but that was based on his tremendous start to his NHL career. He had 78 points as a rookie and reached the 70-point mark two more times in his first four campaigns.

His numbers have dipped significantly, to the point where he has eight goals and 17 points in 25 games this season. That creates an awkward situation where the Avalanche might demand that he take a significant pay cut if he wants to stick with them.

Either way, the Avalanche still have a lot of games ahead of them before they have to close the books on 2013-14. Especially if they keep playing like this.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.