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DALLAS (AP)– After Dallas scored three goals in the first period, it was on Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen to preserve the win.
Patrick Eaves capped Dallas’ three-goal first and the Stars held off the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Thursday night. Johnny Oduya and Brett Ritchie also scored in the first for Dallas.
Colorado outshot Dallas 30-16 in the last 40 minutes, but Lehtonen camp up big while getting 28 of his 34 saves.
“You need a game once in a while where your goalie makes some big saves to give you a win,” Stars center Jason Spezza said, “and Kari did that tonight.”
The last 40 minutes were largely a battle between Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Lehtonen.
MacKinnon scored a short-handed goal and added an assist on Mikhail Grigorenko’s third-period goal.
Lehtonen stopped MacKinnon on a breakaway midway through the second period and again on a rebound with 10 minutes left in the game.
“I didn’t love (MacKinnon’s) first period, just like the rest of our team,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said, “but he came hard in the last two periods. He was all around the net, he was hanging onto pucks and it wasn’t fancy plays.”
MacKinnon has scored only three goals this season.
“It was a tough start to the year,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay positive. I’ve got to be better.”
MacKinnon won 11 of 19 faceoffs in the first two periods. He was 5 for 12 in the third after Stars coach Lindy Ruff matched Cody Eakin, returning for his first game this season, with MacKinnon in the faceoff circle.
“MacKinnon was eating up (Radek) Faksa,” Ruff said, “so I looked to (Eakin) to kind of dig in and win a couple. I thought all night he did a good job.”
Eakin won 15 of 23 faceoffs.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 19 shots and snapped an 11-game winning streak against the Stars.
Oduya scored his first goal since last Dec. 17 on a slap shot from the left point that went in off Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie’s left knee at 8:15.
“I just close my eyes and shoot,” Oduya said. “I told Patty (Eaves) that I’m not like him, putting it top shelf every time. For me, it’s kind of shoot at the net and see what happens, and sometimes it goes in.”
Barely two minutes later, Ritchie scored from the slot on the power play after taking a pass from Devin Shore low in the left faceoff circle.
Eaves’ power-play goal from the right of the net followed rapid-fire passes from Spezza behind the net and Tyler Seguin high in the slot.
“I thought we played 20 minutes,” Ruff said. “Maybe a little more than that, until the short-handed goal. I’m frustrated with the short-handed goals we’ve been giving up, and I’m sick of it.”
Dallas has allowed four shorthanded goals this season.
MacKinnon’s goal with 7:54 left in the second came after he took Andreas Martinsen’s pass from the right corner just to the right of the net and beat Lehtonen. Two minutes earlier, Lehtonen had stopped MacKinnon on a breakaway at the end.
The Avalanche pulled within a goal at 1:51 of the third when Grigorenko redirected MacKinnon’s shot from the right point into the right side of the net.
NOTES: A preseason knee injury had sidelined Eakin almost two months. … Colorado scoring leader C Matt Duchene missed his third game because of concussion-like symptoms. LW Gabriel Landeskog, the Avalanche captain, also sat out with a lower-body injury. … LW AJ Greer was recalled for his second NHL game, and scored his first point by assisting on Grigorenko’s goal. … Eaves leads the Stars with eight goals. His 14 points in 17 games represent the best start in his 12 NHL seasons. … Colorado had 12 wins in the previous 15 games vs. the Stars. … Oduya’s goal ended a personal 67-game drought.
Avalanche: At Minnesota on Saturday for the second game on a three-game trip.
Stars: Host Edmonton on Saturday in the third of four straight home games.
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