Philipp Grubauer made a season-high 44 saves, including 23 in the third period, defensemen Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie scored goals and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 3-1 on Thursday night to make the Western Conference playoff race even tighter.
Grubauer has allowed only two goals while facing 104 shots and carrying Colorado on a three-game winning streak.
Carl Soderberg added an empty-net goal with 49 seconds left for the final margin, helping the Avalanche leapfrog idle Minnesota for eighth place in the conference standings. Colorado took a deep tiebreaker lead over Arizona, which lost Thursday, for the second wild card. Colorado and Arizona have 78 points each, and the Avalanche currently would advance based on a better goal differential. The Coyotes will play at Colorado on March 29.
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Tyler Seguin scored the lone goal for Dallas with 5:01 to play. Goalie Ben Bishop's personal winning streak ended at six games.
Dallas retained the first wild card by a four-point margin, but fell four points behind third-place St. Louis, a winning team on Thursday, in the Central Division.
The Stars killed the only power plays in a scoreless first period.
On the first power play five minutes in, the Avalanche had only one shot on goal. Shortly afterward, Bishop stopped two in-close attempts by Tyson Jost. Less than a minute later, Bishop foiled a breakaway by Nathan MacKinnon by saving a wrist shot and MacKinnon's rebound attempt.
Colorado outshot the Stars 13-9 in the first.
Momentum shifted in Dallas' direction in the second period - until the Avalanche scored at 17:20. Samuel Girard sent a pass to Johnson high in the left faceoff circle. Johnson one-timed a slap shot inside the left goalpost.
After two periods, the shots were even at 21.
Barrie scored at 5:19 of the third, sending a wrist shot from the top of the right circle in off the left post.
Seguin, frustrated by Grubauer on close-in shots, finally scored from the outside edge of the right circle.
NOTES: Johnson's goal, his first in 20 games, came on his 31st birthday. ... Barrie's 11th goal, his fourth in the past three games, was his 300th career point. ... Colorado acquired Grubauer in a trade with Washington completed during the 2018 NHL draft at the American Airlines Center, the Stars' home ice. ... Seguin's 28th goal ended a nine-game drought.
Avalanche: Return home Saturday for the first game of a back-to-back, home-and-home series with Chicago.
Stars: Complete a five-game homestand against Pittsburgh on Saturday before taking a four-game trip to western Canada.