It’s hard for any team to feel like they have the Avalanche down and out. If the Dallas Stars didn’t learn this lesson in the regular season, they have now. And almost the hard way.

After blowing a three-goal lead in Game 1, Dallas scored the first four goals but narrowly held on late before adding an empty netter to defeat Colorado 5-3 in Game 2 on Thursday. The Avs entered the third period trailing 4-0 with seemingly every aspect of the game in the Stars’ favor.

Special teams? Dallas fired on all cylinders thanks to two tallies on the man advantage from Miro Heiskanen. And the eventual game-winning goal came shorthanded from Tyler Seguin. The Avs failed to capitalize on three tries on the power play.

Discipline? The Stars were far more disciplined than the Avs, who took four combined too many men on the ice and delay-of-game puck over the glass penalties.

How about the top stars? Dallas’ superstars outplayed Colorado’s top guns. Roope Hintz had just one point in the first eight postseason games but exploded offensively with a four-point performance to go along with the aforementioned goals from Heiskanen. Meanwhile, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar each failed to record a point for the first time in the playoffs.

It’s hard to blame Alexandar Georgiev for the four-goal hole. Colorado’s netminder was a shining light in an otherwise terrible period. He bailed the Avs out several times and kept the game within reach for as long as possible.

Stars goalie Jake Oettinger stole the show. Despite the Avs not having a great showing, they still had many golden opportunities to make this a game before the third period. But Oettinger was up to the task every time. It almost felt like he was unbeatable. Until he hasn’t.

Despite all this, the Avalanche still almost found a way to tie it up. If anything, Colorado’s third-period effort was the exact type of message this team wanted to send before the series shifted to Denver. Teams often resort to physicality and after-the-whistle scrums to send a message. It’s what we saw from the Florida Panthers the previous night. And the Avalanche had every reason to settle for this option.

Early in the second period, Stars captain Jamie Benn skated behind the net and laid a heavy hit on Avs defenseman Devon Toews. The principal point of contact was Toews’ shoulder but Benn exploded into the hit and eventually made contact with his head on the follow-through. The play was blown dead and Benn was assessed a five-minute major, which was then rescinded upon further review.

Not only was it not deemed an illegal hit, but the officials also did not call what looked like a charge by Benn before the contact was made. Colorado came away from this play without a power play and the rest of the second period unraveled.

They could’ve used that play as their main focal point in the third period. But aside from a handful of runs by Josh Manson at Benn, the Avs decided to ignore this and instead remind the Stars that they can score in bunches, and it’ll come from all over the lineup.

Joel Kiviranta returned after missing three games and got the scoring started in the final frame. Then it was Brandon Duhaime scoring his first career postseason goal to make it 4-2 at the eight-minute mark. Colorado continued to battle and added another from Valeri Nichushkin with the goalie pulled.

Nichushkin extended his goal-scoring streak to seven games and leads the NHL with nine.

Even with the loss, the Avalanche already accomplished the goal of stealing one of the two games in Dallas. They’ll host the next two games at Ball Arena, hoping to take a stranglehold of the series.

On one hand, Colorado is confident as it now has home-ice advantage. But on the other hand, the early deficits simply can’t continue. There’s reason to believe Dallas also has confidence knowing they could very well be up 2-0.

This series is everything it was billed to be. And it continues on Saturday.