The Colorado Avalanche’s center Nathan MacKinnon (29) gets past the San Jose Sharks Mario Ferraro (38) to put the puck on net and Sharks goaltender Martin Jones (1) in the first period of Tue Jan 26, 2021 game at the Ball Center in Denver (AP News photo)
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks fell 7-3 to the high-powered Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. The Avalanche goals were scored by Valeri Nichushkin, Brandon Saad (2), Joonas Donskoi, Mikko Rantanen, Devon Toews and Samuel Girard. Their goaltender, Philipp Grubauer, made 27 saves for the win. Sharks goals came from Noah Gregor, Ryan Donato and Logan Couture. Martin Jones made 14 saves on 19 shots before being replaced by Devan Dubnyk, who made 21 saves for San Jose.
Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner described the moment he thought the game really started to unravel for his team:
“The most disappointing thing for me was, you know, okay it’s three-one after the first period, we had a good eight, nine minutes and we’re still in the hockey game and then we start on the power play. We turn one over, they go down and get a breakaway. Our next unit comes on, turns one over, it’s in the back of our net, it’s four one. Obviously, that’s when the game opens up a bit and we paid the price for it. You can’t open up against these guys and you can’t mis-manage pucks and that’s exactly what we did.”
Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said:
“They played a good game today and we did not. I think we started okay but we still defended a lot, even though we got the first goal. I don’t think that was anything we really created. We got a good puck bounce. I think that once they started rolling, we became a little passive and we gave them a little too much room and, you know, we started doubting ourselves a bit. And that’s probably why the game ran away from us against a good team like this.”
The Sharks scored first, a double-tap from Ryan Donato at 10:39. He brought the puck up from the goal line and tried to shoot it through two defenders but it hit a couple of legs. He found it as it bounced and nudged it in for his third of the season. Assists went to Kevin Labanc and Logan Couture.
Colorado tied it up at 16:15. Valeri Nichushkin carried the puck down around behind the net and then sent it back to the blue line for a shot by Erik Johnson. Joonas Donskoi skated across in front of Martin Jones just as the shot came in and the puck hit him on the way in. Assists went to Johnson and Nichushkin.
The Avalanche took the lead less that a minute later. Cale Makar put the puck into traffic in front of Martin Jones and Brandon Saad knocked it in. Assists went to Makar and Andre Burakovsky.
Piling it on, Colorado scored a power play goal in the final minute of play. Nikolai Knyzhov was in the box for hooking against Tyson Jost. The Sharks penalty kill held off the Colorado power play for almost a minute before Mikko Rantanen scored with a hard shot from above the face-off circle. Assists went to Nathan MacKinnon and Makar.
At the end of the first, Colorado led in shots 16-9 and the Sharks had a slight lead in face-off wins of 52%.
The Avalanche kept rolling. The Sharks had an early power play in the second period, but half way through it, Valeri Nichushkin snatched the puck in the neutral zone and took it the other way for a short-handed goal.
Samuel Girard scored a few minutes later with a shot through what looked like all available skaters on the ice. Assists went to Tyson Jost and Kiefer Sherwood.
Devan Dubnyk came in to relieve Martin Jones in the Sharks net. After the game, Bob Boughner said: “I think both goalies were left out to dry multiple times tonight. It’s tough to make a goalie evaluation, I think that, you know, some of the plays that they made through the seam, and we actually made some saves on it, they scored on I think it was the second or third one. But you can’t allow seam plays.”
The Sharks’ third line showed some jump and scored one at 7:44. Some quick passes got the puck to the net just as Noah Gregor got there to tuck it in with a backhand. Assists went to Dylan Gambrell and Timo Meier.
Near the 13:00 mark, Devan Dubnyk got tangled up with J.T. Compher. He took some time to recover but did not leave the game.
The Avalanche resumed scoring at 13:30 when Devon Toews scored Colorado’s sixth of the night. Towes took a shot from the blue line that did not go in. Toews took another shot, this time into an empty net while Dubnyk was tangled up with another Colorado forward. Assists went to Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar.
Brandon Saad scored his second of the night at 15:01. Johnson, Kadri and Saad entered the zone and got around everyone but Vlasic and in a brief two-on-one, scored the team’s seventh.
The Sharks were outshot in the second 13-6.
Logan Couture got one back for San Jose at 12:43 of the third period. Kevin Labanc made a cross-ice pass to Donato as they entered the zone with Couture between them. Donato moved it back to the middle as they closed on the net and Couture tipped it in. Assists went to Donato and Labanc.
The only stat that favored the Sharks Tuesday was their face-off win percentage, finishing with 53%.
The Sharks next play on Thursday at 6:00 PM PT, against the Avalanche in Colorado again.