Hutchinson, MacKinnon help Avalanche force Game 7 against Stars

Avalanche Stars Game 7
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The Colorado Avalanche are not going away without a fight.

Thanks to their 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night, the Avalanche have erased a 3-1 series deficit and forced a Game 7 in their Second Round matchup.

It is the first Game 7 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and will take place on Friday night in Edmonton.

The Avalanche received goals from Nikita Zadorov, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon, while Michael Hutchinson picked up his second win in a row in net by stopping 27 of the 28 shots he faced.

Things looked bleak for the Avalanche early when Hutchinson allowed a soft goal to standout Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen.

But Zadorov’s goal came just two minutes later to tie the game, while Makar eventually gave the Avalanche the lead midway through the second period.

Rantanen scored an important insurance marker midway through the third period.

MacKinnon recorded an assist on Rantanen’s goal, and then added an empty-net goal of his own, to increase his lead in the postseason scoring race. He is now up to 25 points in 14 postseason games, including the Round-Robin phase. Just for some perspective on that number, Ryan O'Reilly and Brad Marchand led the postseason in scoring a year ago with 23 points. They reached that number 24 and 26 games respectively.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

MacKinnon is the first player since Wayne Gretzky in 1993 to record at least 25 points in 14 playoff games or fewer. He has a point in every Avalanche game so far this postseason, including eight games with at least two points.

Even when they trailed the series by a 3-1 margin it was hard to count the Avalanche out given the offensive firepower and talent they have. You had to know there was always a chance they could go on a roll and rip off a couple of wins, and they have done exactly that.

But it is still pretty remarkable the way they have been able to do it, especially given the obstacles they have faced during the series.

They have been without Erik Johnson, one of their top defenseman, since the first game of the series, and have also lost two goalies with Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz both going down. That forced them to turn to Hutchinson. Before his start in Game 5 earlier this week he had never started an NHL Playoff game in his career, and had managed only an .888 save percentage in the regular season over the past two seasons.

In this series he has stopped 61 out of the 65 shots he has faced (a .938 save percentage).

Making matters worse on Wednesday was the fact they played most of the game with only five defenseman after Conor Timmins was injured early in the second period, and also briefly lost captain Gabriel Landeskog after he was hit in the leg by the skate blade of Makar. Landeskog eventually returned to the team’s bench later in the third period.

They have also overcome a power play unit that had badly struggled the entire series and was 0-for-5 on Wednesday, including on an early four-minute double-minor advantage.

No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 3 Dallas Stars (Series tied 3-3)

Series preview
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 (recap)
Game 6: Avalanche 4, Stars 1
Game 7: Friday, Sept. 4 – TBD – NBCSN

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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