Avalanche dominates Stars to inch closer to Western Conference’s No. 1 playoff seed – The Denver Post

The Avalanche climbed closer to the Western Conference’s No. 1 playoff seed Wednesday with a dominating 4-0 victory over the Dallas Stars in Edmonton.

Cale Makar, Joonas Donskoi, Vladislav Namestnikov and Andre Burakovsky scored and goalie Pavel Francouz had a 27-save shutout in his first career NHL postseason game. Makar and Burakovsky scored on the power play, and Donskoi’s tally came one second after a Stars player was released from the penalty box at Rogers Place.

The win — the Avs’ first in five games over Dallas this season — makes Colorado 2-0 (four points) in its three-game, round-robin for conference seeding. It will clinch the No. 1 spot with a victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday.

Dallas (0-2) played without top-pair defenseman John Klingberg and goalie Ben Bishop, who both were “unfit to play.” The Stars have been outscored 8-0 since taking a 3-1 lead into the third period Monday against the Golden Knights (1-0), who face St. Louis (0-1) on Thursday. The seeding tiebreaker for the four teams is regular-season winning percentage.

Makar used a one-time slap shot from the slot for the game’s first goal 3:19 into the game, and Donskoi doubled the lead at 15:29 with a backhand from the goalmouth. Namestnikov pounced on a Nathan MacKinnon rebound at 17:30 of the second period and Burakovsky scored Colorado’s second power-play goal 1:31 into the third.

Left wingers Namestnikov and Burakovsky switched spots on the first and third lines, with Namestnikov getting the call to play with MacKinnon and star right winger Mikko Rantanen.

Fourth-line left wing Matt Nieto returned to the lineup after being a surprise scratch Sunday in the last-second 2-1 victory over the Blues. Nieto replaced Tyson Jost.

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