The San Jose Sharks (23-8-6, 52 points) defeated the Colorado Avalanche (23-10-3, 49 points) by the final score of 5-4 in a shootout at the SAP Center in San Jose. The Sharks, who looked to be in the driver’s seat late, gave up two goals in a 12-second span to fall behind before scoring late to earn at least a point.
The Sharks looked very good once again against a strong opponent. They were especially potent on the power play, where they went 2-for-4 with the man-advantage. Also looking great Monday was goaltender Antti Niemi, who hasn’t quite been himself as of late. Monday night, however, he bailed out the San Jose Sharks on a number of plays and was fantastic all night defending his net.
This evening the lines were once again juggled which was not surprising considering San Jose’s struggles at times against the Dallas Stars. This time it was Joe Thornton centering Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns while Logan Couture was reuinted with Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels. Martin Havlat was scratched late after he was slated to be in the lineup and Mike Brown took his spot.
The first period had its share of fireworks with two fights early. The first one featured Mike Brown, who opened up a nice gash on Cody McLeod‘s face near the end, while the second scrap involved former Shark Jamie McGinn and Brad Stuart.
Eventually goals would be scored as well, three in fact, of which the Avalanche scored two. The first goal of the game, scored by Colorado, was on the power play when Nathan MacKinnon scored quickly on the powerplay to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Jason Demers would answer with a power play goal of his own on a one-timer from Thornton and would even the score at one apiece.
However, with less than a minute to go before the end of the period, the Avalanche would get a goal from their captain Gabriel Landeskog that really killed a lot of San Jose’s momentum. The Sharks had tons of great sustained pressure in the offensive zone prior to that goal, but rather than keeping the momentum they lost it after one bad line change which resulted in a wide open Landeskog in front of the net who picked the low stick-side of Niemi and fired it home.
The second period was thoroughly dominated by the Sharks and it showed on the shot clock as they outshot the Avalanche 21-5. They also scored twice on goals by Brent Burns and Matt Irwin. Irwin’s goal, which was San Jose’s second power play goal of the game, came on a simple shot from the point with Marleau in front providing the screen.
In the third period the game would take a few turns, starting with two goals in a 12 second span for the Avalanche where they took a 4-3 lead with just over 1:30 left in regulation. The first goal, which was scored by defenseman Erik Johnson, came immediately following an Avalanche power play. At that point they had pulled their goaltender and had a brief six-on-four advantage which was all they needed.
The second goal that came 12 second later was one Niemi should have stopped as it came from a bad angle off to his right. Judging by his reaction it looked as though he had it all the way, but once the puck was on him he just whiffed with his glove and in it went.
With San Jose down 4-3 with just about a minute and a half left it was their turn to pull their goaltender. With Niemi on the bench the Sharks were able to pull off a clutch moment of their own when Pavelski scored with just 20 seconds left in the game. He got a great feed from Thornton who was behind the net and spotted his namely counterpart who pick a corner and fired it home to make it 4-4 and send the game to overtime.
In overtime the Sharks would earn a power play and did everything but score as Colorado’s goaltender Semyon Varlamov was by far his teams’ best penalty killer. He was forced to make a number of saves but was able to keep his team in the game and take them to a shootout.
In the shootout the Sharks would go in for the kill as they scored twice in Varlamov in goals by Pavelski and Marleau to win the shootout 2-0. In the end the San Jose Sharks would pull off a win they probably should have had in the first place so all is right in the world.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Joe Thornton (3 assists)
2. Brent Burns (1 goal, 2 assists)
3. Joe Pavelski (1 goal, 1 shootout goal)