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Duchene scores winner in 2nd OT, Stars reach conference final with 2-1 win over Avs

Colorado Avalanche center Casey Mittelstadt, left, pushes Dallas Stars center Matt Duchene, center, against Colorado goaltender Alexandar Georgiev during the second period of Game 6 of an NHL hockey playoff series Friday, May 17, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Matt Duchene scored at 11:42 of the second overtime after being involved in a play that led to a goal disallowed for goaltender interference in the first extra period, and the Dallas Stars advanced to the Western Conference final with a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 on Friday night.

Duchene, a 2009 draft pick of the Avalanche, secured a loose puck in front of the net and sent it over a sprawled out Alexandar Georgiev. Duchene took off down the ice and slid on his knees in celebration.

“(The puck) just popped out to me, and shot it in and then blacked out pretty much,” Duchene said after the game. “I was so tired, I started skating and then I got tired. I don’t even know what I did after that, to be honest with you. I was pretty pumped up.”

In the locker room after the game, the Stars celebrated by blaring an almost fitting tune — “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver.

Dallas advances to face either Edmonton or Vancouver next. It’s the second straight trip to the conference final for the Stars, who lost last season to eventual Stanley Cup champion Vegas. The Stars won their only Stanley Cup title in 1999.

“The dream's still alive,” Stars forward Joe Pavelski said.

Jamie Benn tied the game at 1:56 of the third period. 

Mason Marchment thought he scored the winner with 7:29 left in the first overtime but it was waved off for goaltender interference. The play was reviewed and the call on the ice stood. Duchene was jostling with Cale Makar in front of Georgiev, leading to a call. The NHL’s situation room explained that Duchene impaired Georgiev’s ability to play his position in the crease.

“The explanation that I got was Dutchie’s (bottom) was over the line. His feet were outside but his (bottom) was over the line,” Marchment explained. “I think honestly, they didn’t want to make it a deciding goal. ... At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. We got the job done. It’s awesome.”

Jake Oettinger was stellar all night in making 29 saves. One of his biggest was a close-range shot from Artturi Lehkonen down low midway through the second OT. 

“He was fabulous,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said of his goaltender. 

This was a series in which the road team won five of six games, including the Stars taking all three in Denver. The Avalanche were the top home team in the regular season, while the Stars had the best road record. 

Dallas joins Florida and the New York Rangers as teams that closed out a second-round series in six games. It’s just the third post-season to have three Round 2 matchups decided in six games (1999 and 2004).

It was a difficult end to what was a tumultuous post-season for Colorado, with Valeri Nichushkin suspended before Game 4 for violating terms of the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program.

“A devastating result,” Makar said of the Game 6 loss. “The year being where we all feel like we have a team that with all of our pieces can make a push for the whole thing.” 

Colorado scored the opening goal of the game for the first time in the series when Mikko Rantanen sent a wrist shot over Oettinger early in the second period on a power play. 

Makar had an assist to give him 80 career playoff points in 72 games played. He’s the fifth defenceman in NHL history to amass 80 career post-season points in 80 or fewer games, joining Bobby Orr (66 games), Paul Coffey (67), Brian Leetch (70) and Al MacInnis (71). 

Both team were missing forwards, with Roope Hintz out for Dallas and Yakov Trenin for Colorado.

“We fought hard,” said Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, a Hart Trophy finalist who had four goals and 10 assists in the post-season run. “The effort was there the whole season.”



Pat Graham, The Associated Press

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