The Colorado Avalanche rallied late in the third period and beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday in a matchup between divisional opponents that came into the night tied in the standings and just four points out of the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

“This is the most exciting game of the year for us so far,” John Mitchell said coming into the contest. “In terms of the team that we are playing, the standings, the overall significance of it. This is a big game for both clubs, and I’m sure we will both be ready for it.”

Maxime Talbot provided the decisive goal in the eleventh round of the shootout after Tyson Barrie tied the game with just 20 seconds remaining on the clock.

Despite being outshot 31-16 in regulation, the Avalanche (22-18-11) scored their fifth goal with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker this season, forcing their league-leading 20th overtime game. The club has tied the game with the extra attacker late in the third period in four of their last six games.

Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves in regulation and overtime.

It was the first of three meetings between the Avalanche and the Stars (23-19-8) in the month of February. Colorado took the first two meetings between the clubs this season, both of which were in Denver, by a combined score of 9-5.

The Stars power play came into the game red hot, and kept up the pace with a Patrick Eaves power play goal in the first period. Dallas posted four goals with the man advantage in their previous game against the Winnipeg Jets and have gone 8-for-19 (42.1 percent) over the course of their last four games.

Moments after the Stars’ opening goal, Jarome Iginla dropped the gloves with Antoine Rousell. The fight was the fourth of the season for Iginla.

Erik Cole took advantage of a Nate Guenin turnover with less than a minute left in the second to make it a 2-0 lead for the Stars heading into the second intermission.

“You never want to make those plays, but it’s how you bounce back,” Guenin said. “If you sit here and sulk, it’s going to ruin your game, so you make a mistake, it’s like anything in life, you have to move on. Came out in the third and just tried to play my game.”

The Avalanche finally got on the board at 6:12 of the third period when Ryan O’Reilly cleanly won an offensive zone faceoff, then scored off of Brad Stuart’s end wall pass.

After sustaining pressure with Varlamov pulled in the closing minutes, Tyson Barrie one-timed Gabriel Landeskog’s pass from the point and tied the game to force overtime. Dennis Everberg was stationed in front of Kari Lehtonen providing a great screen.

After a scoreless overtime, Nathan MacKinnon and Tyler Seguin traded goals in the first three rounds of the shootout, then Rousel and Daniel Briere scored in the eighth round, followed by Colton Sceviour and Landeskog tallying in the ninth round, and finally Talbot decided the contest in the 11th round of the shootout. Varlamov turned away eight of the eleven attempts he faced.

Colorado is now 7-1-0 versus Dallas since the start of last season.

“It’s nice to rally,” head coach Patrick Roy said. “After giving up that late goal in the second period, our guys showed some character. Obviously, we pulled the goalie at the end we scored. In overtime we had plenty of chances. I think we had nine shots on net, we dominated the overtime, which was good for us, and then everybody saw the shootout.”

The Avalanche are back in action on Thursday when they host the Detroit Red Wings.

Nathan is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheRealNatron.

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