Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks
By Mary Walsh
The Colorado Avalanche tied their second round series with the San Jose Sharks by winning in 3-0 in Denver on Thursday. Their goal scorers were Nathan MacKinnon, Colin Wilson and Erik Johnson. It was MacKinnon’s sixth of the playoffs, and his second in this round against the Sharks. Philipp Grubauer made 32 saves for the shutout win, while Martin Jones made 25 saves in the loss.
Sharks forward Logan Couture blamed turnovers for the loss: “I thought we turned way too many pucks over. Way too many, handed them goals off turnovers inside of our blue line, and just bad decisions with the puck.”
Couture also pointed to missed opportunities: “It seems like it’s been the story of this series where we’ve had some good looks, we don’t score, and it costs us. The amount of times where we’ve had, you know, breakaways or good looks in the slot and we don’t score, and they come back and they score soon after.”
Five Sharks had three or more shots on goal, and they had more than one breakaway Thursday.
The game was remarkably even for the first half. Shot counts were within two in each period, there were no penalties in the first and two per team in the second. The Sharks won 53% of the face-offs in both of the first two periods.
After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said: “It was one of those games I thought, half way through, you know, I kind of had the feeling whoever was going to score first was probably going to win. And you know they got the goal, they got the energy they started to grab some momentum, win a few more battles than we were winning from that point on. But I really felt the game was right there at least up until that point.”
The Sharks’ first power play was cut short by an overlapping penalty to Kevin Labanc. That raised some eyebrows since Erik Karlsson had been conspicuously tripped while he carried the puck through the neutral zone, in full view of most observers. That was not called, which would have given the Sharks a two-man advantage.
The first goal came in the middle of the second period. It was scored by Nathan MacKinnon on a second effort, after Jones had already stopped a nice attempt. Cale Makar shot the puck for a deflection by Mikko Rantanen, and Jones stopped that with his mask, but the rebound went off of Burns in front of the net. Burns tried to knock it away from the net, but didn’t get all of it, so it started to fall down to the blue paint. MacKinnon was close enough to knock it past Jones.
The second Colorado goal came on a power play that saw Justin Braun in the box for tripping Alexander Kerfoot. A clearing attempt by Brent Burns was cut short by Colin Wilson and fell to Gabriel Landeskog to carry back in. The Sharks’ penalty killers were caught a little off kilter and, in a scramble by the net, none of them could get control of the puck again. It trickled out of traffic to Wilson, who had an open net by then. Assists went to Rantanen and Landeskog.
At 8:05 of the third, Braun went to the box again after a careless high stick that caught Colin Wilson in the face. Seconds before that penalty was to expire, Brent Burns joined Braun in the box for hooking Samuel Girard. The Sharks were doing a great job killing the first penalty, were in fact all south of the center line attempting some short-handed offense. Girard got past Burns and Burns got his stick up around Girard’s arms as Girard closed on the Sharks net. That gave the Sharks 14 seconds of five-on-three to kill.
The Sharks did kill it off. In the last two minutes of the period, they pulled Jones for an extra skater. Two goals in two minutes was unlikely even with six skaters. Instead, Colorado got their third of the night, put into the empty net by Erik Johnson. Assists went to Matt Calvert and Matt Nieto.
Game 5 will be in San Jose on Saturday at 7:00 PM PT.
Around the nine-minute mark of the third, Nyquist went down in a collision with MacKinnon and required some attention from the trainer. He did not miss much game time, if any, for that. The Sharks shortened their bench once again in the third period. Joakim Ryan did not skate in the third and Lukas Radil only had one shift. Micheal Haley and Marcus Sorensen also had their shifts cut down.