DAL Game 5 51524

DALLAS -- The opportunity was there for the Dallas Stars, to finish their Western Conference Second Round series at home, to avoid another plane trip for a bit, to get a few days extra rest, to wait and see who they’d get in the conference final.

The Colorado Avalanche had other ideas.

“They were good tonight, give them a little bit of credit. At the end of the day, we look at it as a little bit of a missed opportunity,” Stars forward Joe Pavelski said after a 5-3 loss to the Avalanche in Game 5 at American Airlines Center on Wednesday.

“We were good in some areas, but there were definitely some areas we gave them a little bit more space tonight.”

The Avalanche took advantage of that space at 5-on-5 and on the power play, which went 2-for-3 after going 0-for-8 with two short-handed goals against in the previous three games.

The Stars, who still lead the best-of-7 series 3-2, will now have to go back to Ball Arena in Denver for Game 6 on Friday (10 p.m. ET; MAX, truTV, TNT, SN1, SN, TVAS). As confident as they were coming home with a 3-1 lead, the Stars are just 3-4 here in the postseason.

“We feel good here, we like playing here,” Pavelski said. “On the flip side, we’ve been really good on the road, so there are certain things from the road we could probably bring home and do a little bit better job at, but yeah, we have to win (here). Got to take care of our opportunities here when we get them like this.”

Granted, even with their scoring struggles of late, the Avalanche were not going to go quietly. The Stars expected a pushback from them, and they got it.

“We knew we were going to get their best game of the series, and we did," Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said. "Their big guys were all on the score sheet tonight, which you probably anticipated would happen."

Among those DeBoer was talking about was Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, who scored two goals, and forward Nathan MacKinnon, who had a goal and an assist.

“We still are right there in that game," DeBoer added. "I liked our second period. A couple things happened that are really self-inflicted this time of year.”

One of those self-inflicted moments came late in the first period. After Pavelski scored his first goal of the playoffs to put the Stars ahead 1-0 at 9:03, Avalanche forward Artturi Lehkonen tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal with one second remaining.

“You’ve got to get out of the period there,” DeBoer said.

Then, at 1:12 of the third period, it finally happened. The Stars found themselves trailing in a game for the first time in the series when Casey Mittelstadt put the Avalanche in front 3-2 with a shot that hit off the post and banked in off the back of Stars goalie Jake Oettinger's left pad.

After Makar scored his second of the game to make it 4-2 at 4:28, Logan Stankoven responded with his third of the playoffs at 5:44 to get the Stars within one. Despite getting two more power play opportunities at 6:59 and 16:59, that would be as close as Dallas would get.

“I thought we had good chances. Would love to get a couple more on the power play (1-for-4), but it is what it is,” Stars forward Jason Robertson said.

“They're doing their job killing, and we'll make adjustments accordingly and try to get more chances."

The Stars won’t be intimidated about having to make those adjustments in Ball Arena. They had the League’s best road record during the regular season (26-10-5) and defeated the Avalanche there in Games 3 and 4. They’re 4-1 on the road this postseason.

Nevertheless, failing to close out the series on home ice on Wednesday felt like an opportunity lost.

“Yeah, try to take some of what we did in there already," Pavelski said. "Just do your job. Guys are going to be ready, we’re going to be prepared. We know they’re going to be.

“It’s going to be a great game, great atmosphere. We like playing this time of year. That’s why it’s so great, that’s why you want to be a part of it. We have to regroup and move forward.”