DENVER — Dominating the Dallas Stars on Tuesday was just what the doctor ordered for the Avalanche.

In just its fourth win in 11 games since the All-Star break, Colorado made easy work of its division rival Dallas Stars at Ball Arena, scoring three times in the second period on its way to a 5-1 triumph. The Avs are 4-5-2 since the break and haven’t had a one-sided victory like this since January. It was only a matter of time before they’d figure things out. But to do it against a team they’re battling atop the division increases its importance.

Colorado is 3-0-0 against the Stars this season.

“We were committed to our defending game, won the special teams battle, goaltender was fantastic,” head coach Jared Bednar said. “I mean, you check those three boxes for our team, it usually leads to success so there’s there’s a lot to like there for sure.”

Joel Kiviranta, Mikko Rantanen, Andrew Cogliano, Nathan MacKinnon and Artturi Lehkonen scored for the Avalanche, who improved to 23-6-0 at home. MacKinnon’s season-opening home point streak increased to 29 games — just 11 back of Wayne Gretzky for the NHL record. Cogliano, Rantanen, Lehkonen and MacKinnon also pitched in with assists.

The Avs’ win puts them two points back of Dallas for second in the Central Division with a game in hand. Colorado also has a 32-26 advantage in the regulation wins tiebreaker. A victory over the lowly Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Thursday could put them ahead of the Stars, who face the division-leading Winnipeg Jets that same night.

Bednar referenced the team’s quest to win the division title at morning skate. With just 22 games remaining, the Avs sit two points back of Winnipeg but the Jets, who have won four straight and seven of their last 10, also have three games in hand. Colorado has one game remaining against Winnipeg this season after losing in regulation in the first two meetings.


Closing it out early

Dallas entered the game on the second leg of a back-to-back after falling 3-2 in OT to the New York Islanders on Monday. Colorado needed to take advantage of the Stars’ fatigue. And to do it by jumping out to a four-goal lead before the third period, Bednar was able to limit his top stars’ minutes in the final frame.

Rantanen entered the third period at 15:27 of ice time — 14:32 of which was at even strength. MacKinnon didn’t trail far behind, sitting at 14:28 total, or 13:23 at even strength. In the third, the pair played just 5:11 and 5:15, respectively. Lehkonen, who was elevated to the top line permanently in place of Jonathan Drouin, played 6:04 in the third period after playing 13:57 through the first 40 minutes.

On defense, Cale Makar led the charge with 23:59 of ice time. It’s the first time in nearly three months that he’s played 24 or fewer minutes in two consecutive games. Makar recorded an assist on MacKinnon’s second-period goal to break the franchise points record among defensemen (308), passing Tyson Barrie.

Alexandar… The Great?

Goalie Alexandar Georgiev bounced back from Saturday’s loss in a huge way against the Stars, even if it didn’t seem like it at first. Georgiev surrendered a goal to rookie Logan Stankoven on Dallas’ first shot of the game at 1:00. He locked things up the rest of the way, stopping each of the next 33 shots he faced. Georgiev has struggled to find consistency seemingly all season but he’s now up to four wins in his last five games with just 12 goals against. Georgiev has a .918 save percentage in that stretch, stopping 134 of 146 shots.

“That’s one of the best games I’ve seen play in a long time,” Bednar said.

Penalties were hard to come by

For the second consecutive game, Colorado barely got any calls in its favor. Against the Toronto Maple Leafs last weekend, the Avs had one power play, and it came off a delay of game for the opposition shooting the puck over the glass from the defensive zone. They got the same call against the Stars and scored on it just as they did against the Leafs. Their only other power play came in the third period when they were up by four goals — a hooking call on veteran forward Joe Pavelski.

They’ve drawn just three penalties in two games despite leading the NHL in power-play opportunities (215). They have two power-play goals in that stretch.

It’s worth noting that refs are calling nearly a similar game the other way. Against the Leafs, Colorado took two minor penalties, one of which was also a puck over the glass penalty. It was again called for two minors against Dallas. The Avs couldn’t kill off either penalty against the Leafs but were successful on both Byram’s late first-period tripping infraction and Samuel Girard’s interference penalty in the third.

“To have more of a 5-on-5 game and then still win the special teams battle, I thought was a great step forward for our PP and our PK,” Bednar said.