Wyatt Johnston nets two goals as the Dallas Stars propel the Colorado Avalanche to the edge of elimination with a commanding 5-1 victory in Game 4

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The players get entangled on the ground

Wyatt Johnston celebrated his 21st birthday by scoring two goals, helping the Dallas Stars take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Colorado Avalanche with a 5-1 victory in Game 4. The win puts the Avalanche on the edge of elimination, with the Stars having the chance to close out the series at home in Game 5 on Wednesday.

“Johnston played with incredible determination tonight,” praised Stars coach Pete DeBoer. “He was everywhere on the ice, showcasing his talent as a promising young player.”

In addition to Johnston’s goals, Miro Heiskanen and Evgenii Dadonov also found the net, with Sam Steel adding an empty-net goal late in the game. Goalie Jake Oettinger made 24 saves to secure the victory.

The game took a surprising turn before puck drop when the NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced Valeri Nichushkin’s suspension for at least six months without pay due to his placement in stage 3 of the league’s player assistance program.

Despite this setback, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar emphasized the need for mental toughness among his players, refusing to use Nichushkin’s absence as an excuse.

Colorado had a tough start without Nichushkin, their top scorer in the playoffs with nine goals. They struggled to get going early and were outshot 16-2 in the first period. Casey Mittelstadt managed to score the only goal for Colorado in the second period.

Jason Robertson runs after the puck

“We looked sluggish in the first period,” commented Bednar. “We weren’t moving well, it seemed like we were tired, which is surprising since we should have been the fresher team.”

Adding to their woes, the Avalanche were missing key defenseman Devon Toews, who was sidelined due to illness. Despite their efforts, Colorado couldn’t stop Johnston and the Stars from taking a 3-0 lead in the second period. Remarkably, Dallas has yet to fall behind in regulation during this series.

“We’ve been playing some solid hockey and putting ourselves in good positions,” noted Stars forward Joe Pavelski. “Our main focus is to stick to our game plan.”

Johnston, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Tuesday, scored his 10th and 11th career playoff goals. He joins a select group of players in NHL history who have reached double-digit postseason goals before turning 21, according to league records.

After the game, Johnston was presented with a special candy-bar cake with a candle to celebrate his birthday.

“It’s been quite a rollercoaster these past couple of years,” Johnston remarked. “I’m incredibly grateful and happy to have met some wonderful people along the way and to have the opportunity to play for the Stars.”

Logan Stankoven tries to contol of puck

The Stars had to deal with forward Roope Hintz leaving the game due to an upper-body injury in the first period. Alexandar Georgiev faced a lot of shots throughout the game, making 29 saves.

Avalanche forward Jonathan Drouin made his postseason debut this season, stepping up to fill in for Nichushkin. Drouin had been out since he got injured in the last game of the regular season. With Toews missing from the lineup, Caleb Jones was brought in and ended up getting called for two penalties.

The Avalanche lost both home games to Dallas in this series. Colorado had the best home record in the NHL during the regular season, going 31-9-1. Now, it’s a critical moment.

“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Avalanche forward Andrew Cogliano stated. “We’ll give it everything we’ve got and see how it goes. … We want to walk away with no regrets.”

Johnston seized an opportunity late in the first period when Cale Makar made a mistake, allowing Johnston to score a shorthanded goal and give the Stars a 1-0 lead. It’s the second shorthanded goal of the series for Dallas.


By James Brown

A passionate and driven individual currently pursuing a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). Born on 06 February, hails from Raipur, where their journey into the world of technology and creativity began.

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