Nazem Kadri scored the go-ahead goal with 6:06 remaining in a wild third period as the Colorado Avalanche regrouped to beat the Dallas Stars, 6-4, in Game 3 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal series Wednesday night in Edmonton, Alberta.
Dallas has a 2-1 advantage in the second-round series. Game 4 will be Friday.
Leading 3-1 in the third, Colorado saw the Stars rally for three straight goals, including one that caromed into the net off the leg of Jamie Benn to put Dallas up.
Mikko Rantanen and Kadri responded with goals 1:52 apart to give the Avalanche back a 5-4 advantage. Kadri tipped in the winner off a pass from Kevin Connauton.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare added a late empty-netter for his first playoff goal to seal the win.
“It’s a character win,” Kadri said. “It would’ve been easy for us to get down on ourselves. We’re pretty comfortable playing in every situation. Obviously, blowing the lead, it wasn’t our best. But this is a game that could definitely give us some moment and hopefully change the series.”
Before the game, there was talk about whether the NHL should take the ice after the NBA and other professional sports leagues postponed games to protest racial injustice in the wake of the shooting on Sunday of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, by white police officers in Kenosha, Wisc.
“We support and applaud the NBA,” Kadri said. “I understand this is a problem that’s gone on for far too long . . . . Eventually words get stale. It’s about action and making a difference.”
The NHL, after a dialogue with the Hockey Diversity Alliance, opted to postpone playoff games on Thursday and Friday until Saturday after players from all eight remaining teams decided not to play in those games.
“I support what’s going on, I support the movement,” said Tyler Seguin, who had a first-period goal for the Stars. “And I think hockey needs honestly to do more. But I think we can all show our actions in different ways.”
Islanders goalie questionable
The New York Islanders went from having confidence in a franchise record-setting goaltender, to having concerns about how Semyon Varlamov will bounce back from his worst performance of the NHL postseason after getting pulled in the first period of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
Varlamov entered Game 2 coming off back-to-back shutouts, and achieved a record shutout streak in Islanders playoff history in the first period. But the Flyers chased him from his net after pumping in three goals on 10 shots against Varlamov, who had a .941 save percentage going into the game.
The 32-year-old veteran goalie was pulled in favor of backup Thomas Greiss late in the first period. Greiss, in his first action of this postseason, stopped 20 shots.
“He looked very comfortable, which is a great sign,” said Islanders coach Barry Trotz. “As we say, you have to be ready in the playoffs. He was definitely ready.”
Kubalik staying in Chicago?
Heading into his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks, Dominik Kubalik just focused on making the team.
Now his contract situation is one of the biggest questions for the Blackhawks.
Kubalik is eligible for restricted free agency after leading NHL rookies with 30 goals this season. He also had 16 assists in 68 games, making a smooth transition to Chicago after playing in Switzerland the previous season.
Negotiations between Kubalik’s representation and the Blackhawks could be tricky. The 6-foot-2 winger turned 25 last week, and his breakout performance in his only year in the league makes for an unusual case.
Chicago acquired Kubalik in a January 2019 trade with Los Angeles for a fifth-round pick. He was drafted by the Kings in the seventh round in 2013, but he never played for the team.
A finalist for the Calder Trophy awarded to the NHL’s top rookie, Kubalik said Thursday he hadn’t thought about free agency just yet.
“The season just ended, so I’m really happy to be home,” he said in a video conference call from his native Czech Republic. “It’s going to be probably a conversation with my agent in the next couple days and weeks.
“After this year, hopefully, I’m confident that I’m on a good way and I would love to stay in Chicago. So that’s probably all I can say about it right now.”