DALLAS – Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves for his second shutout this season, Gabriel Landeskog scored two goals and the streaking Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 4-0 on Sunday.
The Avalanche increased their franchise-record point streak to 19 games (17-0-2) and their NHL-leading point total to 72 in 46 games, three points ahead of the Florida Panthers with a game in hand.
“Darcy’s been getting better and better as the season’s gone on," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.
Kuemper has played all of Avalanche’s last four games, allowing a total of five goals with a 3-0-1 record.
Landeskog and Nazem Kadri scored in the first period, with Cole Makar assisting both times.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel added a goal at 13:50 of the third period, and Landeskog backhanded an unassisted empty-net goal with 1:50 remaining.
Dallas goalie Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots. Both first-period goals against Holtby came when the Stars allowed Colorado skaters in front of the net.
Landeskog deflected Nathan MacKinnon's shot from the blue line off his stick and into the net at 5:31.
Kadri increased Colorado’s lead to 2-0 with his 20th of the season when Makar passed from the right faceoff circle to the front of the net for an easy goal. He reached a career high with 62 points this season — 10 (four goals, six assists) in the last six games.
“It's in the back of your mind, but it's not something I focus on too much,” Kadri said. “I'm just in a zone right now. The best way to continue that is to stay focused, not get too far ahead of yourself.”
The Avalanche asserted themselves early with a 13-5 advantage in shots on goal in the first period. Seven first-period giveaways hurt the Dallas offense. Kuemper turned aside the Stars' best chance in the period when he saved a shot by Roope Hintz alone in front of the net.
“We gave that team way too much respect early and we didn’t take to them,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. When we’re aggressive and we’re taking plays to them and it’s physical then we’re a very good hockey club. When we’re tip-toeing around and watching them play, we’re not.”
Dallas exerted more pressure in the second, outshooting Colorado 14-7, but neither team scored in the period. Kuemper stepped up with 14 saves, four on the Stars' three power plays in the second. Dallas cleaned up its defense, keeping Avalanche skaters away from the area in front.
“First period, we were on our toes and really on the attack,” Bednar said. “They kind of turned it, flipped it a bit in the second period, but the third we did a great job. The third period was probably the best defensive period we've had."
“Our penalty kill's been doing a lot of work here recently. We were making really good reads. It was aggressive. We'll win puck battles and get in shot lanes," he said.
Aube-Kubel helped Colorado to a 3-0 lead, receiving the puck on the left-wing boards, skating to the top of the slot and beating Holtby with a wrist shot.
“The second was probably our best period of the night,” the Stars' Joe Pavelski said. "We were out attacking a little bit more, drew some penalties, so we had some power-play time. You get a couple looks there, you cut the score in half, that would have been a big part for us.”
NOTES: Colorado's point streak began nearly two months ago after a 5-2 loss at Nashville on Dec. 16. ... The Avalanche have an 11-point lead over Minnesota in the Central Division. ... Kuemper's shutout was the 22nd of his career. MacKinnon returned after missing four games and the All-Star game because of a concussion and facial fracture. MacKinnon said, “I had surgery a couple days later, so I was just tired. I've been getting treatment on my neck.” ... Dallas C Luke Glendening played in his 600th NHL game. ... In 19 career games against Dallas, he has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists). ... Colorado RW Logan O'Connor split two defenders for a chance at his second short-handed goal of the season but missed with his shot. O'Connor also has three short-handed assists. His four short-handed points are tied for the NHL lead. ... Sunday's game was rescheduled from Dec. 29.
The teams play again Tuesday at Colorado in a game postponed from Dec. 31. It's the start of a three-game trip for Dallas.
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