The scores says it big after the Colorado Avalanche opened up the game with two goals the San Jose Sharks scored six unanswered goals at SAP Center in San Jose for the win on Mon Mar 1, 2021 (photo from @SanJoseSharks)
By Matthew Harrington
The sting from Saturday’s 7-6 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues seemed like it was still fresh for the San Jose Sharks Monday at the SAP Center. Facing a test of their mettle against Stanley Cup contenders the Colorado Avalanche, the Sharks fell behind 2-0 and looked punchless against a faster, more skilled opponent.
Instead, San Jose (8-9-2) rallied for it’s most impressive win of the season, scoring six unanswered goals in the second and third periods combined to beat the Avs 6-2 Martin Jones made 33 saves against a potent Colorado offense, Timo Meier had his first career three-assist night and a pair of Sharks defensemen not named Brent Burns lit the lamp.
Six different Sharks scored and 11 players picked up a point for San Jose. Samuel Girard and Gabriel Landeskog scored for Colorado (11-7-1) in the defeat.
Girard opened the scoring late in the first, scoring on a wrist shot with 1:28 left in the period for a 1-0 lead, and Landeskog potted his fifth of the year on the power play 4:21 into the second to put Colorado firmly in control for what was shaping up to be a long night for the Sharks. It was a player that coach Bob Boughner called on the carpet specifically after morning skate, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who helped start the rally.
Vlasic, who generally looked like he’d received his coach’s message with inspired play all around, activated in the offensive end. He found a seam in the slot for another defenseman known more for his defensive work than offensive panache, Radim Simek. Simek slipped a wrist shot through Philipp Grubauer’s five-hole to cut the lead two at 1 6:13 into the period. For the Sharks, it was the first goal scored by a defenseman other than Brent Burns this season. Rudolfs Balcers also assisted on the goal.
Kevin Labanc tied the game with 3:12 left in the period to stay hot and score the first of two goals for the top line Monday night. Evander Kane and Logan Couture assisted on the goal.
“They’ve got a little bit of everything,” said Boughner about his top line Monday. “(Kevin Labanc) has really worked hard on his two-way game. I think you can see he has a nose for the puck, he’s working hard. He’s never forechecked like he’s forechecking now. (Evander) Kane and (Logan Couture) have chemistry where they don’t throw pucks away. They’re both big, strong guys. It works.”
Balcers picked up his second point on the night, firing a shot that Grubauer saved but Nazem Kadri put into his own net while being pressured by Timo Meier 4:18 into the final period which ultimately became the game-winner.
After looking dangerous and motivated in his first game back from a groin injury Saturday, Erik Karlsson built on his last performance by lighting the lamp for the first time this year on the power play 7:53 into the third. He slipped a wrister under Grubauer, with Kane picking up his second point of the night with an assist with San Jose on the power play.
“It seems like he’s got a good reset,” said Boughner. “He’s doing those little things with the puck that we’re used to seeing him do. You’re seeing him exploding out of traffic. He has that separation speed back in his game. I just thought he’s been a real confident player.”
Meier sprung rookie John Leonard on the breakaway 2:18 later, with Leonard burying the puck past Grubauer for his third goal of the season. It was the third-straight goal Meier assisted on. Kane potted the empty net goal for his third point of the night and eighth goal of the year.
For the Sharks to sweep the series against Colorado, they’ll need a near-identical effort, but Monday proves that despite some early-season struggles the Sharks have the talent to hang with the top teams in the division when at their best. They’ll be challenged to replicate the results from Monday when they host Colorado again Wednesday night in San Jose to continue the long homestand.
Notes: Tomas Hertl missed his second game after going on the Covid-19 protocol list last Wednesday…Without Hertl the Sharks went 22-29 at the face-off dot…Alexander True made his season debut, playing 6:29 with two shots on goal and two penalties…Simek’s goal was his first in almost a year, last scoring March 3rd, 2020 against Toronto…It was Karlsson’s first goal since February 10th of last season…The Avalanche were without last season’s Calder Trophy winner Cale Makar, he missed Monday’s game with an upper body injury…Timo Meier has three games with three points or more this season…Kevin Labanc has six points over his last four games.