The best words in hockey — unless, of course, you’re a fan of either team and you’ll be sweating out every second of every play.
There will be three Stanley Cup playoffs Game 7s before the conference finals can get underway, and the first one features the Avalanche and Stars.
For the Stars, this shouldn’t have even gotten to this point; they led 2-0 and 3-1 and looked poised to advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2008.
They also didn’t want to bring up the ghosts of 2019, when this squad was up 3-2 in their best-of-seven series with the Blues before losing 2-1 in overtime in Game 7. The Avalanche are also looking to leave last year in the past; against the Sharks in the second round, they won Game 6 before faltering in Game 7.
As for this series, there has been plenty of drama — especially between the pipes.
No. 1 netminder Ben Bishop has been “unfit to play” for the majority of the series and postseason. Anton Khudobin, who posted a .930 save percentage during the regular season, started five of the six games against Colorado but was on the bench to start Game 5 (with the Stars up 3-1).
“Yesterday, he looked really sharp,” said head coach Rick Bowness after the 6-3 loss as to why he started Bishop. “He felt good. He felt he was ready to go.”
Khudobin was back in net for Game 6 and is expected to get the nod in Game 7.
On the opposite end of the ice, Colorado head coach Jared Bednar has also had to deal with not one but two top goalies going down. Philipp Grubauer got hurt in Game 1, then Pavel Francouz was deemed unavailable for Game 5. So in came third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson, who if you remember was basically run out of Toronto and dealt in February to the Avs.
“I love it, not just for Hutch, but for all the guys that don’t have an easy path, but they wanted it and they stuck to it, they invest in themselves, and they continue to try to battle to play at the highest level they possibly can, and eventually get a chance,” said Bednar, regarding the goalie who came in and backstopped his team to wins in not one but two elimination games. “I think there’s value in those players, because they appreciate what they have in playing in the best league in the world and playing this game for a living.”
So, in all likelihood, it’ll be Khudobin vs. Hutchinson — just as everyone expected.
Oh, and this game will also have Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, Miro Heiskanen and Tyler Seguin going up against Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon, Calder Trophy finalist Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri. Captain Gabe Landeskog is out after he got cut by a skate in Game 6.
Sporting News has all the action as the Stars and Avalanche battle it out for a spot in the Western Conference finals.
Stars vs. Avalanche scores, updates from 2020 Western Conference second round’s Game 7
(All times Eastern.)
6:56 p.m. — Overtime!
Third period: Avalanche 4, Stars 4
6:38 p.m. — OVERTIME!! IN A GAME 7!!!
6:37 p.m. — Unreal blocker save by Hutchinson through traffic and then he absolutely robs Joe Pavelski on the doorstep in the waning seconds of regulation.
6:31 p.m. — GOAL. Ten seconds later it’s Kiviranta with his second of the game as he scores on the rebound. Game tied 4-4.
6:31 p.m. — GOAL. Khudobin could only do so much. He stopped two shots but then Namestnikov buried the rebound over the Stars netminder for his second of the game to give the Avs the lead. Avalanche lead 4-3.
6:28 p.m. — Gurianov rings one off the post. Stars come thisclose to taking the lead.
6:22 p.m — PP GOAL. Klingberg walks the line, throws the puck on the net and Radulov deflects it for his second goal, and power-play goal, of the game. Game tied 3-3.
6:19 p.m. — Compher called for tripping Radulov. Stars get a chance to even things up and they already have a power-play goal in the game.
6:17 p.m. — Avalanche held off the scoreboard with the man advantage — although MacKinnon did come extremely close as Khudobin made a shoulder save.
6:15 p.m. — 12:44 left in the third period. Dallas trails 3-2, only has two shots on net in the period and Radulov just took a penalty.
6:06 p.m. — No Janmark to start the third period for Dallas.
6:04 p.m. — Third period begins in Game 7.
Second period: Avalanche 3, Stars 2
5:49 p.m. — Interesting note: Jamie Benn has only played 8:04 (3:02 in the second) and Tyler Seguin 10:14 (4:08 in the second).
Interesting to seemingly bench Benn and Seguin at this point. Like you have to play them a ton in the third and hope message sent, right?
— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) September 4, 2020
5:45 p.m. — Horn sounds on the second period. Avalanche with 31 shots through two periods while the Stars have 26.
5:35 p.m. — Kadri just got absolutely robbed by Khudobin as the netminder was being knocked down. Unreal, desperation save to keep it a one-goal game.
5:23 p.m. — On the power play, the puck deflects off some bodies to Kadri sitting at the bottom of the left circle and he rings one off the pipe.
5:22 p.m. — Another (unnecessary) holding call by the Stars, this time by Corey Perry.
5:17 p.m. — PP GOAL. Nazem Kadri finds the loose puck down low and buries it for the power-play goal. It’s his sixth goal with the man advantage. Avalanche lead 3-2.
5:16 p.m. — Sekera blocks a shot and isn’t too comfy.
5:15 p.m. — Janmark called for holding. Avalanche head to the power play (0-for-1 so far).
5:13 p.m. — Matt Nieto breaks out, dekes and Khudobin makes the save on the backhand.
5:12 p.m. — GOAL. On a delayed penalty, Gurianov takes a low shot from the point with traffic in front and Joel Kiviranta with the deflection. Game tied 2-2.
5:08 p.m. — Second period is a go.
First period: Avalanche 2, Stars 1
4:48 p.m. — First period comes to an end.
Here’s some analytics for your intermission reading:
- Both teams put 15 shots on net
- Avalanche led the way with 60 percent Corsi For at 5v5
- The Avs also had 11 Scoring Chances For compared to the Stars’ three at 5v5 (13-6 regardless of the situation)
- Colorado’s rookie sensation Cale Makar had the most ice time among both teams at eight minutes, 42 seconds.
4:37 p.m. — Colorado now 0-for-1 on the power play.
4:34 p.m. — Avalanche head to the power play. Colorado entered the series at 29.7 percent efficiency on the man advantage, but are only at 10.7 percent against the Stars.
4:30 p.m. — By the way, Burakovsky has quite the knack for Game 7 goal scoring.
4:27 p..m. — GOAL. Andre Burakovsky intercepts the pass inside the Stars’ offensive zone by the blue line and snaps the puck home from the left circle. Avalanche lead 2-1.
4:18 p.m. — Blake Comeau comes super close to giving Dallas its second lead of the game.
4:16 p.m. — GOAL. Less than a minute later and it’s a tie game! Ian Cole puts the puck on net and it gets deflected by Vladislav Namestnikov in front before dipping under the pads of Anton Khudobin. Game tied 1-1.
4:13 p.m. — PP GOAL. Michael Hutchinson makes the initial stop but Alexander Radulov stuffs the puck home for the power-play goal. It’s his sixth of the postseason, fourth of the series, and first with the man advantage. Stars lead 1-0.
4:11 p.m. — Rantanen called for tripping. Stars head to the power play.
4:10 p.m. — Seconds into the game and there’s a mad scramble in front of the Stars net. Avalanche come close to take a (super) early lead.
4:10 p.m. — Game on.
3:36 p.m. — Confirmed. No Landeskog.
Gabriel Landeskog is unfit to play for the Avalanche today. He was cut in the right leg by Cale Makar’s skate blade with 2:50 remaining in the second period of Game 6.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) September 4, 2020
2:40 p.m. — Pregame vibes.
2 p.m. — It’s been a while…