DENVER — Peter DeBoer joked that coaches never really see perfect games, but he said the Dallas Stars4-1 win Saturday over the Colorado Avalanche was “as close to a perfect road game” that a team could have.

DeBoer said the Stars’ poise went a long way toward achieving that near perfection as they took a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

“Coming in this situation, we knew they were going to come out guns blazing in the first period,” DeBoer said. “You knew their home record. You knew they had challenged their best players … after last game. We knew we were going to get a lot thrown at us early in that game, and our composure throughout the night I thought was outstanding.”

DeBoer’s prediction was accurate. The Avalanche broke through to finish with 11 shots on goal in an opening frame that saw them largely control possession with a 68.1% shot share, according to Natural Stat Trick. Yet it was the Stars who took a 1-0 lead because of a goal from rookie forward Logan Stankoven with 1:21 remaining in the first period and a perfect frame from goaltender Jake Oettinger.

Oettinger, who finished with 29 saves, continually found moments that kept the Avalanche from tying the score. His lone blemish came in the second, when the Avs used a more aggressive approach to attack the net. Center Nathan MacKinnon deked through Dallas’ zone before passing it to winger Mikko Rantanen, who tied the score with 9:36 remaining in the period.

Although the Avalanche have yet to hold a lead in any game this series, that hasn’t totally prevented them from winning games. The Stars took a 3-0 lead in Game 1 only for the Avalanche to score four straight goals, with the winner coming via Miles Wood in overtime. Game 2 witnessed the Stars create a four-goal lead, only for the Avs to cut it to 4-3 with less than three minutes remaining in the third — before Esa Lindell‘s empty-netter tied the series at a game apiece.

But Rantanen’s goal was the closest the Avs would get to mounting a potential comeback on Saturday. Stars forward Tyler Seguin scored less than five minutes later for a 2-1 lead.

“We knew coming into this rink how these guys play, and we also know how we play on the road,” Seguin said. “We knew it’d be a big challenge, and the next game is going to be a bigger challenge. But the playoffs are about those moments and getting the right bounces at times, as well.”

The Stars found comfort playing with a one-goal lead in a second period that saw the Avalanche have a consecutive frame with 11 shots while having a shot share that was at 67%. An example of that comfort came when MacKinnon and Rantanen were cycling in a one-two exchange that ended with Rantanen getting a point-blank shot on net that Oettinger contained. The save came around 90 seconds before Seguin’s goal gave the Stars the lead.

“I think it’s learning from our mistakes, and we did that,” Oettinger said. “I think that was one of the best third periods we’ve played this season. Just being smart and not taking penalties. Staying on the defensive side of the puck, and I don’t think they had many scoring chances in the third.”

After seeing 22 scoring chances between the first two periods, the Avalanche were held to just six in 5-on-5 play in the third.

The Stars’ blueprint Saturday came down to four things: limiting the Avs to fewer scoring chances in the third; the ability to hold onto a lead; keeping the Avs 0-for-3 on the power play; and holding on long enough for Seguin and Stankoven to score a pair of empty-net goals to effectively end the game.

A similar performance Monday in Game 4 could see the Stars return to Dallas with a chance to end the series in five games and return to the Western Conference final for a consecutive season.

And while DeBoer called it close to perfect, Stankoven believed there were still areas where the Stars could have improved.

“I thought the first part of our game, we didn’t really play to our best,” Stankoven said. “But it got a little bit better as the game went on. I don’t think we were perfect whatsoever, and I think we can keep on building.”