Bernier spoils Sharks’ comeback; Avalanche top Sharks 5-3 for eighth win in a row

~ Photo credit: Colorado Avalanche

~ By Pearl Allison Lo

~ The San Jose Sharks came to within one from three goals down, but the Colorado Avalanche goalie Jonathan Bernier stymied power play attempts and what not to preserve a 5-3 win at Pepsi Center on Thursday.

San Jose made it 4-3 at 4:53 of the second and had two power plays after that, but former Shark Matt Nieto gave Colorado extra change at 16:46. Blake Comeau gathered the loose puck in the neutral zone, turned around along the boards and passed to Nieto. Nieto’s shot went in and off the post before Martin Jones’ right pad could get back.

With an empty net, San Jose got their seventh power play at 19:01, but ran out of time.

Bernier finished with 45 saves in helping his team to an eight-game winning streak. He withstood the Sharks’ shot advantages of 17-7 in the second and 21-6 in the third. San Jose’s ineffectual power play went 1-for-7.

The Avalanche’s speedy Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and an assist, teammate Mikko Rantanen had a goal and two assists, Nieto had an assist, and Comeau had two assists.

The Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic had a goal and assist and teammates Joe Thornton had a goal and Kevin Labanc had two assists. MacKinnon now has 17 points during Colorado’s win streak with seven goals and 10 assists.

San Jose, winners of three in a row, trailed 3-0 as Colorado continued their leading trend with a barrage of goals in the first.

MacKinnon scored two goals in under a minute–the second on a power play–to make it 2-0 by 8:01. The first came when he scored through Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s legs, Gabriel Landeskog then Rantanen touching the puck first in the opposite end. The second came around the horn from Rantanen and then Samuel Girard, as MacKinnon rocketed the puck between Jones’ left arm and left pad.

Carl Soderberg made it 3-0 at 18:14. Comeau zipped the puck longside the boards to Nieto. With Tomas Hertl and Dylan DeMelo’s sticks nearby and approaching, Nieto was then able to transfer the puck over DeMelo’s stick to Soderberg up front. From the edge of the faceoff circle,  Carl Soderberg tallied through a narrow space between Jones’ glove and pad.

The Sharks were unable to score during the power plays at 11:47 and 18:47.

The Avalanche resumed their push in the second, though not before San Jose had five more shots on the power play.

After the pass from Mark Barberio, MacKinnon shot down the slot through a line of traffic and Rantanen made sure the count was 4-0 at 1:34.

San Jose’s Joonas Donskoi hit the post at 9:01.

43 seconds later, the Sharks finally broke through Bernier and their goose eggs on the power play with one second left on special teams. Vlasic set up Labanc, who fired and Timo Meier swept the puck after it dropped past Bernier.

San Jose had another power play at 17:26, during which they attacked the net five more times.

The Sharks remained undaunted, leading off the third with a goal 29 seconds in, to make it 4-2.

Labanc aimed at net, Hertl touched the puck and Vlasic finished the play.

San Jose’s 4-3 goal came off a 2-on-1. Pavelski passed over the far blue line to Burns who crossed the pass to Thornton in front of Bernier and made a swick goal to score. It was Thornton’s fourth game with a goal in each.

The Sharks’ two power plays after that came at 7:35 (seven shots) and 10:24. They also took a penalty at 13:59 which shifted momentum.

Game notes: In the second, Pavelski tripped over Soderberg’s stick to the left of Jones and Soderberg got cut by Pavelski’s skate.

Colorado’s Patrik Nemeth blocked a game-high seven shots.

Labanc and Burns had a game-high seven shots apiece.

Up next: San Jose will head home to host the Pittsburgh Penguins for one game Saturday at 5pm.

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