Ben Bishop‘s return to playoff action was surprising, but not as much as how short and brutal his return ended up being. The Avalanche roared early in Game 5, keeping their season alive by beating the Stars 6-3. Dallas gets another shot to end this series in Game 6 on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN (livestream).
Avalanche blow out Stars in Game 5 to avoid elimination; Ben Bishop has a rough return
Both the Stars and Avalanche raised eyebrows with their goalie decisions in Game 5, as Michael Hutchinson started on the Colorado side to counter Bishop’s surprise return.
Again, it did not go well for Bishop. You can’t pin it all on the big goalie, mind you — (at one point, the Avalanche scored more goals  than the Stars had shots on goal ) — but it wasn’t pretty.
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With a staggering four goals in 2:36 of game time, the Avalanche chased Bishop in the first period. Via NHL PR, the Avalanche were a second short of the fastest four-goal flurry in playoff history. (The record was set in 1944.)
Anton Khudobin took over after Bishop allowed four goals. While Khudobin gave up a goal on the first shot he faced, he righted the ship.
Really, the Stars only flirted with a comeback once. Miro Heiskanen scored a power-play goal to make it 5-2, then Andre Burakovsky scored an authoritative 6-2 tally about 30 seconds later to remove any real doubt.
From there, score effects took over. The Avs let up, and the Stars pushed, but Hutchinson and the Avalanche kept Game 5 quiet. There was some nastiness as this one went along, yet it wasn’t particularly competitive.
We’ll see if Dallas carrying the late stages of this game matters. It’s fair to say that Colorado was explosive and dominant when things were still close, though.
On that Stars goalie decision
So, some will question starting Bishop over Khudobin. It certainly wasn’t expected.
On the other hand, a counterpoint brings up a concern. Being that Game 5 represented the closer of a back-to-back for the Avalanche and Stars, Rick Bowness likely started Bishop in part to rest Khudobin.
With things spiraling out of control, Khudobin went back in. He didn’t get the rest Dallas likely would have preferred. With Khudobin at age 34 and Bishop at 33, it’s fair to consider age in situations like these.
Then again, the Avalanche face plenty of goalie questions of their own. Shockingly, Pavel Francouz didn’t even back up Hutchinson. Instead, Hunter Miska served as Hutchinson’s No. 2.
It’s certainly a situation to watch. Can Francouz get out of the doghouse/get healthy? By allowing 13 goals during his last three games, Francouz obviously lost some of Jared Bednar’s confidence. That said, Hutchinson doesn’t inspire a ton, either. Miska has only played 18 minutes at the NHL level, and that happened in 2018-19 with the Coyotes.
In the likely event that the Stars play a lot better in Game 6, will Hutchinson be able to give the Avs the goaltending they need? Or will Colorado once again make it a moot point with an explosive effort?
We’ll find out soon enough if this wild series gets pushed to the limit. The goalies certainly have, even if this doesn’t go to a seventh game.
No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 3 Dallas Stars (DAL leads 3-2)
Game 1: Stars 5, Avalanche 3. (recap)
Game 2: Stars 5, Avalanche 2. (recap)
Game 3: Avalanche 6, Stars 4. (recap)
Game 4: Stars 5, Avalanche 4. (recap)
Game 5: Avalanche 6, Stars 3.
Game 6: Wednesday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
*Game 7: Friday, Sept. 4 – TBD
MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stars’ Heiskanen takes over top spot in Conn Smythe watch
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.