Stars stun Avalanche in Game 2 to take 2-0 series lead

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The Avalanche roared out of the gate in Game 2, but the Stars weathered the storm just enough to turn the contest on its head during a wild second period. Ultimately, the Stars took advantage of enough opportunities — and impressive work from Anton Khudobin — to win Game 2.

Let’s ponder Dallas storming back from a 2-0 deficit to win Game 2 by a score of 5-2.

Khudobin shut down Avalanche at even strength; Stars rally to win Game 2

During the early portions of Game 2, the Avalanche flexed their muscles against the Stars.

Colorado drew three first-period penalties to one for the Stars, and it was easy to see why, being that the Avalanche ended up with a 20-6 shots on goal advantage against Dallas. Despite that dominance in many areas, the Avalanche managed just a 1-0 lead during the first period.

Through almost half of the second, that dominance carried over. When Mikko Rantanen made it 2-0 on another Avs power play, it looked like the Avalanche might tie the series.

Then the Stars received a pivotal 5-on-3 opportunity.

In the span of 43 seconds, the Stars transformed a 2-0 deficit to a 2-2 tie, and they weren’t done from there.

Jamie Benn made a nice play and the puck bounced off of Alexander Radulov to make it 3-2, then Esa Lindell scored a funky goal. Pavel Francouz was close enough to making a stop that it required a lengthy review, but Lindell’s 4-2 goal ultimately stood.

An empty-net goal inflated the scoreboard ugliness, but the situation looks awfully worrisome for the Avs.

[MORE: Avs react to that 4-2 Esa Lindell goal counting for Stars]

Missed opportunities, and not enough beyond MacKinnon, Rantanen for Avs

The Stars turned Game 2 against the Avalanche on its head with four goals in about half of the second period. As stunning as that was, the Stars can point out taking advantages that Colorado sometimes did not. After all, the Avalanche received a decent 5-on-3 opportunity of their own during the second, but couldn’t score a third power-play goal.

Overall, the Stars exploited some key advantages, while Anton Khudobin loomed large. They’ve received some nice contributions from depth players, something Colorado must envy. Khudobin ended Game 2 with 39 saves, and didn’t allow an even-strength goal.

When it comes to the Avalanche’s top stars, the outlook is a glass half-empty/half-full situation. After a three-point effort in a Game 1 loss, Nathan MacKinnon was a constant threat in Game 2, scoring a goal and an assist. Mikko Rantanen made an impact, too, with a goal and an assist of his own. Should the Avalanche see the bright side in MacKinnon remaining lethal, or feel concerned that they’re squandering great games from great players?

Either way, the Avalanche are in a very tough spot. As powerful as the Avalanche looked at times — including in Game 2 — the Stars now hold a threatening 2-0 lead in this Second Round series.

No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 3 Dallas Stars (DAL leads 2-0)

Series preview
Game 1:
Stars 5, Avalanche 3. (recap)
Game 2: Stars 5, Avalanche 2.
Game 3: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 4: Friday, Aug. 28, 10 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
*Game 5: Sunday, Aug. 30 – TBD
*Game 6: Monday, Aug. 31 – TBD
*Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 2 – TBD

*if necessary

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.