DALLAS -- Cale Makar looked like Cale Makar again, and that’s a huge reason the Colorado Avalanche are still alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The defenseman scored twice in a 5-3 victory against the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round at American Airlines Center on Wednesday, forcing Game 6 in Denver on Friday (10 p.m. ET; MAX, truTV, TNT, SN1, SN, TVAS).

“Obviously, it’s tough,” Makar said. “You’re playing desperate hockey now. Everybody’s got to play on the edge. You’ve got to fight for every single chance you get now, being elimination games.”

Makar had 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in his first six playoff games this season, as the Avalanche defeated the Winnipeg Jets in five games in the first round and took a 1-0 lead against the Stars in the second.

He looked like the guy who won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2022, voted the playoffs’ most valuable player when Colorado won the Stanley Cup.

Then he went three games in a row without a point. The 25-year-old had appeared in 70 playoff games in his NHL career, and that had never happened before. No coincidence, the Avalanche lost three games in a row to fall behind 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.

Like center Nathan MacKinnon, who had one point in three games, he took it to heart.

“They’re put out in situations to help you produce offense, and they’re hard on themselves when they don’t,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “I like that personally, because they’re holding themselves to a high standard.”

The Avalanche trailed 2-1 in the second period Wednesday, their season on the brink, when Makar snapped a shot from the slot on the power play. The puck sailed through traffic and into the upper right corner of the net, tying the game 2-2 at 17:24.

COL@DAL R2, Gm5: Makar blasts in laser wrister on the power play

It was his 20th goal in 71 playoff games. The only defensemen to reach 20 in fewer? Paul Coffey (48), Brian Leetch (49), Bobby Orr (50), Denis Potvin (52), Al MacInnis (70) and Paul Reinhart (70).

But his best moment was yet to come.

With Colorado leading 3-2 in the third, Makar made a move to elude Dallas forward Tyler Seguin inside the blue line. He hopped past Seguin into the right circle, then slipped the puck between the pads of goalie Jake Oettinger, extending the lead to 4-2 at 4:28.

“He’s a shifty guy,” Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson said. “You don’t know whether he’s going right or left. He can stop on a dime and change on you pretty quick. We’ve seen it for years with him dancing forwards at the blue line. Tough part is, he can blow you away. But I mean, that’s one of his incredible, God-given abilities, that he can skate like that.”

The goal ended up as the winner.

COL@DAL R2, Gm5: Makar rips in wrister for second goal of the game

Makar became the first defenseman in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history to score multiple game-winning goals when facing elimination. He also did it in a 4-1 win against the Stars in Game 6 of the second round in 2020.

“It's just high skill, awareness,” Bednar said. “Understanding your opponent, I’m sure, is part of it, and what they’re trying to do. I mean, great on him. That’s what we need from him, obviously. We need that now, especially where we’re at in the series, and his skill shines through, and his competitiveness shines through.”

Makar now has 79 points (21 goals, 58 assists) in 71 playoff games. He has averaged 1.11 points per game. The only defenseman to play at least 70 games and average more? Orr (1.24).

Struggling isn’t something Makar has had to handle often. He won the Norris Trophy in 2021-22, when he was voted the NHL’s best defenseman, and he is a Norris finalist for the fourth straight time after putting up 90 points (21 goals, 69 assists) in 77 games in the regular season.

But the Stars’ defense has been stifling, and Makar said the key is not taking the baggage from each game. If he and his teammates can do this again in Denver on Friday, suddenly this series will be tied 3-3, and the Avalanche will have a chance to complete an epic comeback in Game 7 back here on Sunday.

“We have a couple tough games, and we’ve got to move on and find a way,” he said. “I think the guys had a really good mentality. We had a good mentality coming into today, and we’ve got to hopefully continue that and even excel more with it going into a home game next.”

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