DENVER (AP) — A late rally by Colorado spoiled Jim Montgomery’s return to Denver.

J.T. Compher and Mikko Rantanen scored 45 seconds apart late in the third period, and the Avalanche rallied to beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Saturday night.

Rantanen also had an assist, and Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche. Colorado has won four in a row and is 6-0-1 in its last seven games.

The Avalanche had to overcome a third-period deficit to get this victory after cruising in its last three wins.

“There’s always belief in this team, in this locker room. We know if we go down, we know we can come back,” Rantanen said. “It’s shown a lot of times this year.”

Rantanen leads the NHL in points (38) and assists (28), while MacKinnon is second in points with 35.

gettyimages 1065034678 Compher, Rantanen Score Late In 3rd, Avs Defeat Stars 3 2

Roope Hintz of the Dallas Stars brings the puck out from behind the net against Samuel Girard of the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center Saturday night in Denver. (credit – Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Radek Faska and Jamie Benn had goals, Alexander Radulov had two assists and Anton Khudobin stopped 33 shots for the Stars. Dallas has lost three of its last four and couldn’t get a win in Montgomery’s return to Denver. Montgomery, who was hired in May, coached Denver University for five seasons and led the Pioneers to the 2017 national championship.

“It was great to be back in Denver. I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Montgomery said. “If DU wasn’t playing I’d have tons more. And if we weren’t playing I’d be at DU.”

The Stars nearly pulled out a win for their new coach. They trailed 1-0 when Faska and Benn scored in a span of 3:31 to give Dallas a 2-1 lead with 4:57 left. The Avalanche tied it on Compher’s goal at 17:18.

Colorado got the tiebreaker when Rantanen knocked in Erik Johnson’s rebound at 18:03 of the third period for his 10th goal.

“It was on a rush and Nate found E.J. coming late,” Rantanen said. “E.J. got a shot there and I was just trying to get in front of the net. I got a fortunate bounce right on my tape and I had an empty net.”

Semyon Varlamov stopped a furious rally in the crease in the final seconds and finished with 27 saves.

“We battled hard in the third, got a lead and (kicked) it away at the end,” Benn said. “We need to learn how to manage the game when we have a lead.”

The Avalanche scored first after Dallas killed off the first of two Colorado power plays in the second period. Gabe Landeskog controlled the puck down low and floated a pass to Rantanen at the bottom of the right circle. Rantanen sent a pass to the other side of the crease to MacKinnon, who beat Khudobin on the short side at 13:11.

It was his 15th of the season.

“I thought (MacKinnon’s) line was outstanding all night,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “They created a ton of chances off the rush, using their speed and little slip plays in the middle. They came up with a big one at the end.”

NOTES: Compher has three goals in the last two games after missing 16 games with a head injury. … The Avalanche hosted two survivors of the bus crash in April that killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Defenseman Ryan Straschnitzki and goaltender Jacob Wasserman were honored before the game and participated in the ceremonial puck drop. … Colorado forward Sven Andrighetto was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. He played in three games after missing six with an injury.

UP NEXT:

Dallas: Continues its four-game road trip at Edmonton on Tuesday night.

Colorado: Travels to Nashville on Tuesday night.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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