Facing Dallas for the second time in 29 hours, the Colorado Avalanche got two goals from Peter Forsberg as part of a decisive second period and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Stars on Sunday night.
Chris Drury added a dazzling goal for the Avalanche, who lost by the same score in Dallas on Saturday.
The two games in two days resembled a playoff format for teams already familiar with one another. Dallas has eliminated Colorado in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals in each of the past two seasons.
"I'd like it to be where we get to the finals without having to play them because they're a dynamite team," Stars forward Grant Marshall said. "I think the respect level's there between the teams. Whoever pushes the most is going to be successful."
While Dallas remained three points ahead of San Jose in the battle for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, Colorado ran its NHL-best point total to 101 and retained its seven-point cushion over the Detroit Red Wings for the top spot in the West.
"I thought it had playoff atmosphere," Forsberg said. "Every time we play them we expect a hot battle and we had one today."
After looking lethargic in the first period, Colorado took control in the second, with Forsberg and Drury leading the way.
Forsberg, who has nine goals and 16 assists in the last 10 games, tied it at 1 at 1:05 of the second and scored on a rebound at the right post during a 5-on-3 advantage less than five minutes later.
The two-man advantage was set up when Sergei Zubov was called for slashing 1:19 after Benoit Hogue was whistled for interference.
"I thought the penalty that gave them the 5-on-3 changed everything," Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I thought it was a very weak call for that type of hockey game. That turned the tables. Once they got the lead, guys like Forsberg really took over for that second period."
With Colorado dictating an aggressive tempo, Drury made it 3-1 with a Gretzky-esque goal at 13:02.
After skating through the neutral zone, Drury split Dallas defenders Derian Hatcher and Darryl Sydor and scored into an open net after goalie Eddie Belfour dived to his left in an attempt to poke the puck away.
"I didn't have time to think," Drury said. "Belfour committed to me too early. I didn't know what he was thinking. Maybe he didn't think I'd get through. I got through and pulled it to my backhand."
The score might have been worse if not for Belfour, as Colorado finished with a 24-6 shot advantage in the period.
"They played three periods and we only played two," Dallas defenseman Brad Lukowich said. "Everybody knows what period we took off and that's why we lost."
Taking advantage of a four-minute penalty on Milan Hejduk, the Stars pulled to 3-2 on Marshall's second goal of the game at 6:50 of the third period.
The Avalanche had a chance to counter when Jere Lehtinen was called for a four-minute high-sticking penalty but could not score on Belfour.
The Stars pullEd Belfour in the final minute but failed to get a good chance for the tie.
Belfour finished with 31 saves, and Colorado goalie Patrick Roy had 16.
Dallas, which was 18-0-3 when leading after one period, got the only goal of the first as Marshall scored on a rebound after Zubov's slap shot bounced off the left post.
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