Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks
By Mary Walsh
SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks finished the 2018-19 regular season with a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center on Saturday night. The win was Peter DeBoer’s 400th as an NHL Head Coach and Gus Nyquist’s 500th NHL game. Evander Kane scored his 30th of the season bringing the Sharks tally to four players with 30 or more goals this season. The Sharks’ 101 points earned them second place in the Western Conference. It was a good final game of the regular season. Sharks goals came from Brent Burns, Evander Kane, Kevin Labanc, Gus Nyquist and Micheal Haley. Martin Jones made 28 saves in the win, while Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves in the loss. Colorado goals came from Tyson Jost and Nathan MacKinnon.
After the game, Sharks forward Evander Kane said: “It was good to close the season out with a win, and have another 100 point season here. I think it’s nice to have a victory like that and to have everybody feeling good about their games heading into next week.”
Sharks fans got some good news on the injury front Saturday. Erik Karlsson was back in the lineup though Timo Meier was not, after an injury sustained in Thursday’s game against Edmonton. Meier is expected back for the playoffs and Karlsson had the second highest ice time Saturday.
After the game, Pete DeBoer said of Karlsson’s performance Saturday: “We went into the game and we didn’t really have a plan other than we wanted to play him normally until there was either red flags or he started to fatigue or the trainers thought that was enough. Really, he felt good, you know, deep into the third period so that was good.”
Colorado struck first, just 2:56 into the game. A Colorado shot was blocked high in the slot and the puck wandered in a crowd before being controlled again, by Tyson Jost. The shot went past a number of skaters before getting by Jones. Assists went to Samuel Girard and Erik Johnson.
Evander Kane had a nice breakaway chance, which led to an offensive zone face-off for the Sharks. Right off of that face-off, Brent Burns scored with a blast from the blue line. Tomas Hertl got the assist.
A few minutes later, Evander Kane gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead at 11:15. Kane was in front of the net battling two Colorado defenders when Gus Nyquist got the puck to the net with a spinning pass. Kane shrugged off the two defenders to find the puck and nudge it under Semyon Varlamov. Assists went to Nyquist and Brenden Dillon.
The Sharks were out-shot by the Avalanche 12-10 in the first period, but overwhelmed them in the face-off circle, winning 74% of them. The bulk of those face-offs were taken by Thornton, Goodrow and Hertl.
The Avalanche scored another early goal in the second period, this one at 1:29. Nathan MacKinnon scooted between Sharks defenders while catching a pass from Gabriel Landeskog. He stayed ahead of the Sharks just long enough to get a quick shot off, beating Jones on the glove side. Assists went to Landeskog and Samuel Girard.
Kevin Labanc scored at 6:57, giving the Sharks their lead back. Joe Thornton brought the puck into the zone and then waited for his line-mates to get into position. Labanc received the pass and seemed to be trying to pass it to Sorensen who was almost at the blue paint. Instead, the puck went off of an Avalanche stick and up and over Ian Cole and Sorensen, landing behind Varlamov. Assists went to Thornton and Sorensen.
The shot count tilted slightly in the Sharks’ favor in the second, ending up 12-9 for the Sharks. San Jose maintained their face-off success, still at 73% by the end of the second.
The Sharks did not give up a goal in the first five minutes of the third period. Instead, they scored again at 14:15. Evander Kane retrieved the puck in the corner and sent it away from the boards, where Nyquist picked it up on his way through the face-off circle. He picked the near corner of the net and sent the puck over Varlamov’s shoulder. It was Nyquist’s 22nd of the season. Assists went to Kane and Tomas Hertl.
The Avalanche pulled their goaltender with over three minutes to go. Joe Pavelski put the puck into that empty net with 3:01 left in the game, but it was challenged as off-side. Joonas Donskoi tried to straddle the blue line while the puck crept across but he couldn’t keep his back skate on the ice. The goal was called back.
A little over a minute later, Micheal Haley was able to break away and score in the empty net to make it 5-2. Brent Burns got the assists on that one.
The final shot count was 30-30, and the Sharks won 69% of the face-offs. Barclay Goodrow took 14 of the face-offs and won 86% of them.
The playoff schedule will be announced shortly. The Sharks will start at home next week, against the Vegas Golden Knights.