San Jose Sharks right wing Nick Merkley, right, attempts to take the puck down ice against Colorado Avalanche right wing Valeri Nichushkin at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Sat Nov 13, 2021 (AP News photo)
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks fell 6-2 to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver Saturday. Devon Toews, Nazem Kadri, Alex Newhook, Logan O’Connor, Andre Burakovsky and Samuel Girard scored for Colorado. Darcy Kuemper made 28 saves for the win. Logan Couture and Alexander Barabanov scored for San Jose, and Adin Hill made 25 saves in the loss.
With this loss, the Sharks fell out of a playoff spot for the first time in this young season. Although they had their veterans back from COVID-19 protocol, having to kill four penalties in the first period hurt the team.
After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner said: “You start putting your big boys out there, killing penalties and you lose the flow of your game and we could never get it back.” Boughner mentioned mishandled pucks and bad changes, then summarized: “We started doing things that were uncharacteristic. And there were some guys who looked like they hadn’t played in a long time.”
Sharks forward Tomas Hertl mentioned defensive zone turnovers and how they lead to penalties when tired skaters are trapped in their own zone. In terms of offense, he said: “We need everybody to step it up because we are a team, you know, with 20 guys and we are no team with one line. So today wasn’t good enough.”
Logan Couture gave the Sharks the lead early in the first. While Timo Meier created a screen, Couture’s one-timer from the wing beat Kuemper on the near side. Assists went to Mario Ferraro and Meier.
Devon Toews tied the game at 10:10 wth a power play goal. His shot went by a couple of skaters in the slot and under Adin Hill. Assists went to Samuel Girard and Nazem Kadri.
Nazem Kadri gave the Avalanche the lead just a few minutes later. Valeri Nichushkin’s pass found Kadri breaking away. Kadri drew Hill to the front of the blue paint before slipping the puck around behind the goaltender. Assists went to Nichushkin and Erik Johnson.
The Sharks had to kill four penalties in the first period. In all, their penalty kill gave up six shots and one goal. Despite the penalties, the Sharks still got 12 shots on goal to the Avalanche’s ten. In the face-off circle, the Sharks won 46% of the draws.
Alex Newhook made it 3-1 with his first NHL goal, at 13:55 of the second period. Sam Girard made a pass form the red line to Newhook on the far side of the net, and Newhook shot it past a spawling Hill. Assists went to Girard and Jayson Megna.
Logan O’Connor added a short-handed goal for the Avalanche a couple of minutes later. O’Connor broke away, evading Brent Burns and Timoe Meier before scoring with a backhand. Assists went to Darren Helm and Erik Johnson.
The Avalanche outshot the Sharks 11-8, and won 53% of the face-offs. The Sharks penalty kill allowed two shots. The Sharks power play got one shot on goal.
Alexander Barabanov scored a power play goal for the Sharks at 9:02 of the third period. Tomas Hertl made a shot pass form the boards to Barabanov, who was ready to take a shot into the far side. Jasper Weatherby was right in front of Kuemper so the goalie didn’t see the shot. Assists went to Tomas Hert and Erik Karlsson.
Andre Burakovsky killed any momentum from the power play goal with a goal a little more than a minute later. Samuel Girard took a slap shot from just above the face-off circle, and hit Gabriel Landeskog. As Landeskog fell, the rebound went right to Buraskovky for the scoring shot. Assists went to Landeskog and Girard.
Samuel Girard scored Colorado’s sixth of the night at 16:37, into an empty net. Nazem Kadri got the assist.
For the game, the Sharks had a face-off win percentage of 52, and 30 shots to the Avalanche’s 31.
The Sharks’ next game will be Tuesday in St. Paul against the Minnesota Wild at 6:00 PM PT.