The Avalanche have been in control throughout, outplaying the Stars all over the ice and leading virtually the entire series. Colorado has made Dallas' defense look overmatched (especially Richard Matvichuk) and has taken key Stars forwards (namely center Mike Modano) out of the the first three games. The Stars' stirring Game 3 comeback -- they trailed 3-2 with less than five minutes to play before winning in overtime -- is their lone bright spot
SURPRISE OF THE SERIES
The marginalization of Avalanche forward Teemu Selanne, one of Colorado's most accomplished forwards (nine All-Star games). There was no question that Selanne, coming off a poor, 16-goal, 16-assist season, was struggling. But with Paul Kariya out and Alex Tanguay aching, Selanne seemed ready to be a secondary scoring threat against the Stars. Instead he has hardly played -- getting less than 10 minutes in Game 3 -- and is no longer a presence on the power play.
THE AVALANCHE WIN IF ...
They continue to get production from Peter Forsberg, who had two goals in the first two games. Forsberg remains this team's focal point, and he can carry his teammates. Colorado also needs to continue to press the attack even when it has a lead, something the Avs did effectively in their 5-2 win in Game 2, but failed to do in Game 3.
THE STARS WIN IF ...
They win Game 4. They also need more consistent goaltending from Marty Turco, who faces few shots but a high percentage of scoring opportunities. Turco needs to come up with saves like his gorgeous glove snatch on Rob Blake late in Game 3. Dallas also needs Modano to become a factor, and the team needs to get help from unlikely sources like Game 3 hero Steve Ott.
The winner of Game 4 wins this series. The Stars must turn their game around in a hurry, but if they can even the series up, they could get into the Avs' heads: Colorado has a history of playoff collapses. Dallas also has the tough charge of winning a big game in Colorado. It won't be easy but the Stars some how pull this series out.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Kostya Kennedy takes sides each week at SI.com.