Sharks Beat Avs 3-2, Advance to Western Conference Final

Photo credit: @NBCSSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — For the fifth time in their history, the San Jose Sharks are going to the Western Conference Final after defeating the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Wednesday. Sharks goals came from Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, and Joonas Donskoi. Avs goals came from Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost. Martin Jones made 27 saves for the win, while Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves in a losing effort.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski was a game-time decision Wednesday, and the final decision was to play.

After the game, Sharks forward Logan Couture said of Pavelski: “For a guy that missed playoff action for two weeks, to have the injury that he has, to come back, set up a goal, score a goal. I wish I could tell you what he’s gone through, from seeing it first hand, you wouldn’t believe that he’s playing right now, I’ll just say that. He played unbelievable.”

Due to Pavelski’s return, Joonas Donskoi was bumped down to the fourth line and then he scored the game-winning goal. Thus, the game-winners in both Sharks Game 7s were scored by fourth-liners, which was what Logan Couture said the team needed after Game 6. Couture was asked about that after Wednesday’s game. Couture said of Donskoi:

Donny was great, we needed something, I said it last time. We needed some other guys to step up and score goals and I thought they were very very good tonight. I thought Donny played excellent: he was all over the puck, created chances. They had a really good night when maybe my line, we didn’t create much and have too too many chances. So we needed it.

Nathan MacKinnon went down with a shoulder injury in the first two minutes of play. He returned around the 15-minute mark and appeared to be able-bodied again.

The first goal of the game quieted any concerns about Joe Pavelski’s readiness to play. Tomas Hertl retrieved the puck in the corner and sent it back up the boards to Brent Burns. Burns had time to pick his spot and that spot was right on goal, through the Pavelski tip lane. Pavelski caught the puck with the bottom of his stick blade and sent it bouncing at the net, much lower than Grubauer was ready for. It was Pavelski’s third of the post season. Burns and Hertl got the assists.

The Sharks added another at 11:35. After Evander Kane sent the puck around behind the Avs net, Pavelski retrieved it and then brought it back the way it came. As he passed the net, he passed to an unguarded Hertl, right above the blue paint. Hertl knocked it in quick as a cat. Two defenders, intent on Pavelski’s movements, had not noticed Hertl back there. The one who did notice was not close enough to stop him. Assists went to Pavelski and Kane.

Mikko Rantanen scored with just seven seconds left in the first period, cutting the Sharks’ lead in half. Samuel Girard took a shot right down the slot from the blue line and Rantanen tipped it up into the net. A second assist went to Gabriel Landeskog.

Colin Wilson appeared to have tied the game near the eight minute mark of the second, but the goal was challenged by the Sharks for an offside play. Upon review, the goal was disallowed.

Joonas Donskoi came off the schneid with the Sharks’ third goal of the game. Picking up the puck near the corner, he carried it around behind the net, came out front and took a wrist shot at the near top corner. It was his first goal since January. Assists went to Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson.

The Avs scored again 51 seconds into the third period. Alexander Kerfoot’s shot came out as a rebound that Colin Wilson tried to push back in, but Vlasic got to that. Vlasic’s clearing attempt hit Hertl and bounced back toward the net. Tyson Jost was able to reach it before Jones or Vlasic could. Assists went to Wilson and Kerfoot.

The Avs pulled their goaltender with 2:10 left in regulation, but the Sharks and their goaltender held them off.

Game 1 of the Western Conference Final will be on Saturday the 11th at 5:00 PM PT. The Sharks will host the St. Louis Blues at SAP Center.

Avalanche Force Game 7 with 4-3 OT Win Against Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in overtime at the Pepsi Center Monday. The win means that the teams will come back to San Jose to play a seventh game in their second round playoffs series. Avs goals came from JT Compher (2), Tyson Jost and Gabriel Landeskog. Sharks goals came from Marc-Edouard Vlasic (2) and Brent Burns. Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves for the win, while Martin Jones made 22 saves in a losing effort.

Although the overtime game-winner was scored by the Avs team captain Gabriel Landeskog, Sharks forward Logan Couture said: “Their depth guys beat us tonight. We got beat by JT Compher, Tyson Jost, their second, third, fourth line.”

Similarly, two of the Sharks’ three goals also came from an unusual suspect, Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said: “We got three goals from our defensemen. I thought if there was one disappointing area, I thought our forwards could have found a way to do a little bit more. I thought, as a group, they have to be better for us if we’re going to move on here.”

The first period was marked by three penalties called in a bunch between 12:06 and 17:34. Two went against the Sharks, one on Kevin Labanc for holding, another on Joe Thornton for tripping Matt Nieto. A penalty against Colorado roughly 30 seconds into the second Colorado power play gave the teams 90 seconds of four-on-four. The Sharks only allowed one shot in those penalty kills, but got no shots during their very short power play. The Sharks only got credit for five shots in the first period, while Colorado got 11.

The second period made up for the lack of scoring in the first. The teams traded goals back and forth for four goals period.

Starting with a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone from Ian Cole to JT Compher, the Avalanche moved up the ice fast. Compher sent the puck back across the ice to Jost who was almost to the net, setting him up to shoot before Jones could get across. Assists went to Compher and Cole. The time of the goal was 6:04.

The Avs kept the pressure on for some shifts after that. A minute or so later, Brent Burns caught Mikko Rantanen with a hip check in open ice, sending Rantanen to the dressing room for a spell. The Sharks finally responded with some offensive zone time and after a couple of false starts, sustained pressure on the Colorado net.

They were rewarded with a goal at 14:36 from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Timo Meier had just brought the puck in and tried to get a shot away as he fended off Cale Makar. The puck bounced harmlessly off of Grubauer, but Vlasic was trailing the play and time to lift the puck over the goalie’s pad. Colorado challenged the goal for goaltender interference, after Meier’s skate touched Grubauer’s pad. The goal stood up. Assists went to Meier and Gus Nyquist.

Colorado took the lead back at 18:44. A clearing attempt was thwarted by Alexander Kerfoot on the blue line. While Carl Soderberg carried the puck around the boards, Kerfoot moved to the net to provide a screen. With Vlasic pressuring him, Soderberg made a short pass to Compher, who was at the blue line. Compher’s shot whizzed by Jones unseen by the goalie. Assists went to Soderberg and Kerfoot.

The Sharks tied it again just over a minute later, with 10 seconds left in the period. Tmo Meier fought his way into the zone before losing the puck. Erik Karlsson was there to find it and make a pass to Brent Burns, who was just coming off of the bench. Burns skated in for the shot and beat Grubauer on the right side. Karlsson got the assist.

Through the second period, the teams were tied in shots as well as goals, with eight each.

JT Compher gave the Avs yet another lead four minutes into the third period. Colin Wilson got the puck across the line before he ran into the Sharks defense. Derick Brassard was coming into the zone too fast for the Sharks to adjust. He took the puck below the face-off dot for a bad angle shot that bounced off of Jones. Meanwhile, Compher had come down the other side and skated across in front of the net for a back hand shot over Jones’ pads. Assists went to Brassard and Wilson.

The Sharks had an astonishingly long offensive zone late in the period. A broken stick for Mikko Rantanen helped them out there. Rantanen got a new stick, but not before the Sharks had worn the Colorado defense to a frazzle. Finally, a shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic tied it for the third time, at 17:32. Logan Couture made a short pass form behind the net to Vlasic. Vlasic didn’t have a shot, but he sent it through the blue paint, where Meier might have been able to knock it in. Instead, it went off of Nikita Zadorov’s skate and in. Assists went to Couture and Nyquist.

In the third period, the Sharks out-shot the Avalanche 8-5, and killed one more penalty during which they allowed not shots. Colorado dominated the face-off battle in the first period, winning 72% of them. As the game went on, the Sharks improved there, winning 52% in the second and 58% in the third.

Overtime did not last long. Colorado started the period with early pressure. The Sharks had a couple of good shifts in the second minute, but Colorado’s top line finally got on the board with the winner at 2:32. After the Sharks almost cleared the puck out of a battle in the corner, Cale Makar kept it in at the blue line and sent it back down. Gabriel Landeskog, who had dumped the puck in, then fought for it in the corner, was there in the slot to get the pass. The puck tried to bounce off of his stick but he reached for it and nudged it under Jones. Makar got the only assist.

Neither team has won two games in a row in this series. The last time the Sharks played in back-to-back seven-game series was 1994. Their next Game 7 will be on Wednesday at SAP Center in San Jose at 6:00 PM PT.

Sharks Beat Avs 2-1, Retake Series Lead 3-2

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Sharks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Saturday. With the win, the Sharks took a 3-2 lead in the second round playoff series. Four Sharks (Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns) had four shots on goal in the game, but Tomas Hertl had eight. It was hardly surprising that he had both goals for San Jose. Tyson Jost scored for the Avs. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 21 saves in the win, while Philipp Grubauer made 37 saves for the Avs.

The Sharks held Nathan MacKinnon to a single shot in the game. After the game, Sharks forward Logan Couture was asked what the team’s game plan was against MacKinnon: “Our game plan against him is try and not to let him play in the offensive zone. It’s pretty difficult to do. He’s such a good player, he’s going to get his looks, he’s going to get the puck in the neutral zone. But I thought for the most part we limited, you know, maybe, his chances to the outside. He still gets looks, he’s such a good player.”

The Sharks put the puck in the net during the first period, a nice shot to the top corner from Kevin Labanc off a Joe Thornton feed. But it was called back because Timo Meier had his stick lifted near Mikko Rantanen’s face. It did not seem to make contact but the officials called it a penalty worthy of a disallowed goal. That was the second time in these playoffs that a Sharks goal was called back for a questionable penalty, but this time, the Sharks killed the penalty. They did not allow a shot in that power play.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was asked about the team’s reaction to that non-goal after the game: “I liked how we were playing. I loved how we started, I liked our first period I thought we were putting a lot of pressure on them. I thought, I could tell we were ready to play and committed to what we wanted to do. So it’s not as frustrating when that happens when your team is playing the way it is, because we knew that we were going to get opportunities for some more.”

At the end of the first period, the Sharks had won 59% of the face-offs and led in shots 12-6.

The Sharks were out-shooting the Avalanche consistently, despite suffering back-to-back penalties in the second period. The Avalanche still scored first, late in the second period. JT Compher took a shot off the rush and Jones kicked out a rebound. Brent Burns got to it first but he didn’t get all of it when he tried to clear it to the corner. It went into Tyson Jost’s skates and ended up behind Jones. It was Tyson Jost’s first of the playoffs. Assists went to Compher and Samuel Girard.

With the second period ticking away, the Sharks tied it up with a power play goal. At 19:40, Logan Couture took a shot from the slot off an Erik Karlsson feed. Tomas Hertl, lower down in the slot, deflected the shot past Grubauer to tie the game. The goal was not called back. It was Hertl’s seventh of the playoffs. Assists went to Couture and Karlsson.

In the second period, the Sharks won 63% of the face-offs, and had a shot lead of 29-15. Nine Avs players had shots on goal, while 13 Sharks had at least one shot.

The Sharks got an early power play in the third, courtesy of a high stick from Nikita Zadorov 31 seconds in. The Sharks got just one shot on that power play. After that, the Sharks did an excellent job of kicking Colorado out of their zone, but could not get themselves set up at the other end.

When they finally did get some extended zone time, the Sharks scored. Marc-Edouard Vlasic took a quick shot that hit the goaltender and dropped into the blue paint next to him. Tomas Hertl was battling for space in front of the net. Despite being pushed over the goaltender at the last second, he got a stick on the puck and pushed it over the line at 6:26. Assists went to Vlasiuc and Joonas Donskoi.

The Sharks went back on the power play at 7:31, when Zadorov went back to the box, this time for roughing. The Sharks got four shots on that power play.

The Avalanche pulled their goaltender with over two minutes left in the game, but did not score again. The Sharks tried to score in the empty net a few times but missed.

Game 6 will be on Monday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver at 7:00 PM PT.

Injury notes: Joonas Donskoi was back in the lineup, and Joe Pavelski made an appearance Saturday, waving to the fans from the tunnel. Pavelski is skating again, but there is still no timetable for his return to play.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs podcast with Joe Lami: Avalanche goaltender Grubauer puts the stop on Sharks’ scoring, series tied 2-2

Photo credit: @avalanche_fanly

On the NHL Stanley Cup Playoff podcast with Joe:

#1 The Colorado Avalanche got out of the Pepsi Center in Game 4 with their hockey lives, tying the San Jose Sharks in the series 2-2. The last thing the Avalanche wanted to do was go back to San Jose for a Game 5 down 3-1.

#2 The Sharks’ Logan Couture blamed the turnovers for the loss.

#3 The Sharks just couldn’t get any offense going in the 3-0 shutout. Couture said they got some good looks, but just couldn’t score.

#4 The Avs goalie Philipp Grubauer stopped 32 shots for the shutout. Joe talks about his work between the pipes.

#5 So its onto Game 5 on Saturday night at SAP Center, who has the upper hand now and will the Sharks be able to take advantage of home ice?

Joe Lami does the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs podcast each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.comhttps://soundcloud.com/sports-radio-service/nhl-stanley-cup-playoffs-podcast-with-joe-lami-fri-may-3-2019

Avalanche Win 3-0, Tie Series with Sharks

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.

Sharks Take Game 3, Beat Avs 4-2 with Couture Hat Trick

Photo credit:

By Mary Walsh

The San Jose Sharks took a 2-1 series lead over the Colorado Avalanche, winning 4-2 in Denver Tuesday. Three of the Sharks’ goals came from Logan Couture, and one from Timo Meier. Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Nieto scored for Colorado. Martin Jones made 25 saves for the win, and Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves in the loss.

After the game, Martin Jones said of Logan Couture: “He’s clutch, I mean big games, big moments in games, he’s the guy that, every time, you can rely on. So, he was huge again tonight.”

The Sharks took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but then saw the game tied 2-2 in the third period. Of the team’s response to this situation, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said:

I loved our response, it was even-keeled, there was no panic, you know, it was just ‘get out there and let’s get back at this.’ I think we knew, at that point it was 2-2, but, you know, we deserved to be in a different spot than that. We knew what was working for us and we just needed to get back to that.

Power plays were remarkably unproductive in the game. None scored and only one power play in the game generated more than one shot, Colorado’s in the second period. That one only got two shots.

Sharks defenseman Justin Braun said, of his team’s defensive success in the game: “I think it came down to the pk. You know, we did a really good job, they had a lot of good chances but we kept it out of the net.”

The Sharks had two power plays by the time the middle of the first period had gone by. They had few shots on those power plays that looked dangerous, but hit a lot of metal. The Avs had their first power play abbreviated as it overlapped with the Sharks’ second one. The power plays and the four-on-four added to the speed of the period, which didn’t generate any scoring until the last five minutes.

Logan Couture was able to score after a prolonged attack on the Colorado net, at 15:24. Grubauer made several saves before Couture put the puck past him with a reaching swipe at his own rebound. Assists went to Gus Nyquist and Timo Meier.

Timo Meier added another in the final minute of the period. Rushing in after intercepting the puck in the neutral zone, Meier blew past the unsuspecting defense and took the shot without slowing down. The puck rang the bar on its way in.

The shot count for the first period was 13-7 Sharks. The Sharks jumped right into the second with four shots in the first 90 seconds of the period. The Avs had two in those 90.

The Sharks had a great shift from the Couture-Meier-Kane line around the 3:20 mark. While the forwards kept the Avs locked in the defensive zone, defensemen Vlasic and Burns got some shots in to stir things up. A shot from Vlasic bounced up and over Grubauer, but managed to stay out. Before the 10-minute mark, the Sharks were on the power play and already had eleven shots to Colorado’s three.

The power play came from a high stick to Micheal Haley’s face. The Sharks did not score but the power play time kept the Avs on their heels. The teams traded penalties again as the period wore on but penalty killers were perfect in the second, technically.

Less than a second after the second Sharks power play expired, Ian Cole intercepted a stretch pass from Brent Burns. He got the puck right to Nathan MacKinnon as he flew off the bench and through the neutral zone. Burns was caught flat-footed as MacKinnon went around him and beat Jones with a quick shot. It was MacKinnon’s fifth of the playoffs. Cole got the lone assist.

The Sharks again outshot the Avs, 13-9 in the second. The Avs came out energized for the third, and got six shots in to the Sharks’ two in the first half of the period. The Sharks also took a too many men penalty at 6:02. Colorado got one shot in that power play, but there were signs of fatigue from the Sharks.

Erik Karlsson’s attempt to move the puck up the boards from behind the net was blocked by Tyson Jost and bounced harmlessly to the corner. That led to an extended attack from Colorado against Sharks, who had already been on the ice for too long. Samuel Girard’s shot came down from the blue line into traffic and went off of Matt Nieto, into the net at 11:45. It was Nieto’s fourth of the playoffs. Assists went to Girard and Cale Makar.

Despite appearances, the Sharks were not completely gassed yet, and they made their first significant push of the third into the offensive zone. After Gus Nyquist forced a turnover just inside the Colorado blue line, Logan Couture, who had been dawdling before leaving the zone, got the puck and had a clear lane to the net. With a couple of little moves, he avoided a defender’s stick and got Grubauer moving just enough to let the puck get by on the short side. It was Couture’s eighth of the playoffs. Nyquist got the assist.

Colorado finished the game on a power play, but they pulled their goaltender to add a sixth skater. Colorado could not really hold the zone and, after a few tries, the Sharks got an empty net goal. It was Couture’s for the hat trick.

Gus Nyquist was able to make it to the game even though he did not travel with the team. He stayed behind with his wife while she delivered their first child, a daughter named Charlotte.

After the game, Nyquist said: “It’ll be nice to lay down in bed tonight and think about a few good days.”

Game 4 will be Thursday at the Pepsi Center in Denver at 7:00 PM PT.

Avalanche Tie Series with 4-3 Win Over Sharks

Photo credit: @SanJoseSharks

By Mary Walsh

SAN JOSE — The Colorado Avalanche edged the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 with a 4-3 win at SAP Center Sunday, tying the second round playoff series at one apiece. Avs’ goals came from Gabriel Landeskog, Tyson Barrie, Matt Nieto and Nathan MacKinnon. Sharks’ goals came from Evander Kane and Brent Burns (2). Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves for Colorado, while Martin Jones made 28 saves on 31 shots for San Jose.

After the game, Sharks forward Evander Kane said: “I thought we did a good job early on, we just let them hang around too long.”

Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson elaborated on the same theme:

I think that we played well, we did a lot of good things out there. Just couldn’t find a way to score goals and got a little frustrated as the game went along and started doing our own thing a little too much. We know that doesn’t work in here and you know we should have learned by now but we didn’t. They capitalized on the chances they got and made us play from behind.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer pointed to the Sharks’ net-front presence as an issue: “I thought it was a pretty even game. I thought we didn’t get to their net enough. We had some real good looks where he made a couple big saves but I thought we could have made it a little tougher on him traffic-wise on our point shots. And I thought we could have done a better job in front of Jonesy, you know, on their point shots.”

Evander Kane started the scoring at 7:57 of the first. Kane was in front of the net and got behind Cale Makar as a blueline shot from Brent Burns came in. With a couple of strong moves, he fended off Makar and put the puck past Grubauer. Assists went to Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl. It was Kane’s second of the playoffs.

Colorado tied it up at 8:21. Tyson Barrie took a shot from the blue line into traffic and it went off of Gabriel Landeskog right on the edge of the blue paint. It was Landeskog’s second of the playoffs. Assists went to Barrie and Nathan MacKinnon.

The Avalanche got a lead on a goal from Tyson Barrie at 16:31. The play could have easily been called an icing, as Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the first to the hash marks, but the officials did not call it and play continued on.

After the game, Vlasic said “I’ll take the high road and wait for the League’s apology tomorrow.”

Barrie’s shot came from above the face-off circle when the puck emerged from a battle by the other side of the net. Jones was coming across from that and could not stop Barrie’s shot. Assists went to Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

Colorado’s lead expanded at 10:10 of the third. Martin Jones looked like he thought he had the puck frozen under him but it was slowly moving behind him. Brenden Dillon got his stick in there to push it away from the goal line but he hit it a little too hard and it bounced off of Jones back into the net. The goal went to Matt Nieto, his third of the playoffs. Assists went to Matt Calvert and Barrie.

The Sharks had some good luck in the form of Alexander Kerfoot’s broken skate, which left Brent Burns free to move and shoot without Kerfoot getting in his way. Burns did just that and brought the Sharks within one at 15:26. Assists went to Erik Karlsson and Marcus Sorensen.

That Sharks momentum was shattered when, moments later, Timo Meier allowed his stick to get into Nathan MacKinnon’s skate and that put the Avalanche on a power play. The Sharks killed off the penalty, but had little time to get the tying goal. With just over a minute to go, they pulled their goaltender for the extra skater. Nathan MacKinnon got control of the puck and put it in the empty net at 18:58. Assists went to Calvert and Philipp Grubauer.

The Sharks did get that third goal, in a 17-second power play at the end of the game. Four skaters battled for puck in the slot, but Tomas Hertl got to it first and tapped it ahead to Burns, who was moving through the outside of the face-off circle. He had a clear shot and he took it. Assists went to Hertl and Kane. That left the Sharks 10 more seconds to tie it with a fourth but they couldn’t get that done.

Melker Karlsson left the game late in the third period after being crushed against the glass by Derick Brassard.

Game 3 will be Tuesday at the Pepsi Center in Denver at 7:00 PM PT.

Sharks Defeat Capitals in Shootout

By Mary Walsh

It could be hard to remember when the Sharks struggled in the shootout, since they have now won in five in a row. Their defeat of the Washington Capitals on Tuesday was not a dominant one, but it was worth two points. It was also worth pride points, as the Sharks extended their current winning streak against Washington to six, and 17-1 since 1999.

After the win, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan described the game in subdued terms:

It was important for us to start the trip off the right way. [It was] kind of a back and forth affair: they had some momentum, we gained it back. Close game, two pretty good teams that played pretty well.

The modest 2-1 final score was a good indicator of the kind of game it was: a tough defensive game that didn’t leave the star shooters a lot of room to meneuver. The goals were scored by Tyler Kennedy for the Sharks and Alex Ovechkin fo the Capitals, with Patrick Marleau scoring the shootout winner. The final shot count was 36-29 for the Capitals. Each team had one power play, neither gave up a power play goal.

Patrick Marleau spoke during the post game for CSN:

Coming out east we took a little while to get warm, into the game.

They hemmed us in early on but we stuck with it. We were able to get our forecheck going in the first kind of went back the other way in the second, but we came in with a good effort in the third and in overtime.

Washington had 5 shots to the Sharks’ 1 in the first five minutes of the game. The first slip-up came during a line change that let Alex Ovechkin enter the Sharks’ zone with only three players defending. That seemed to set off an offensive flurry for the Capitals.

A very fast fight between Mike Brown and Aaron Volpatti at 11:39 broke up the game, and shortly thereafter Tyler Kennedy scored the first goal of the game.

At 13:30, when Tommy Wingels went off for a change, Kennedy went to the middle of the ice and got to the net in perfect time to deflect a shot from Jason Demers. At intermission, Kennedy described the play:

He made a great change in the offensive zone, and I tried to get out there. And JD made a great pass … that’s a world class pass there and I just tried to get it on net.

By the end of the period, the shots stood at 11-10 Sharks.

Going in to the second period, the Sharks’ weak spot lately, San Jose was lucky to not have worse luck to go with their inefficient puck management.

It took the Capitals almost thirteen minutes to tie the game up in the second period. The goal came from Alex Ovechkin, who took a fast shot from a bad angle and put it up the into the far corner. It was his first shot of the game, off a pass from Karl Alzner. The puck blew past Brad Stuart and Antii Niemi before anyone had time to react.

Nieto and Pavelski changed places on the top two lines at the end of the second period. In a last-second flurry of offense, Brad Stuart scored just after the buzzer. The goal was quickly reviewed but the period ended with the teams still tied.

The second period ended with the shots at 11-9 Washington.

The third period opened with some pressure from Washington, but that fizzled quickly with the first penalty of the game, a tripping call against Nicklas Backstrom.

The Sharks started their power play with a clean breakout and a quick shot on net, but Capitals’ goaltender Philipp Grubauer suffocated the shot and stopped play. After the faceoff, the Sharks had some trouble getting out of their own end, and the next zone entry produced just one shot on net.

The teams traded chances after that, with each taking long turns on the attack. In the first seven minutes, the shots for the period were 5-3 Sharks.

Ten minutes in to the third period, the Sharks were spending a lot of time in their own zone. Niemi had to make a point blank save on Eric Fehr, after he was left to saunter out from behind the net and shoot at will.

That seemed to wake the Sharks up and spur them back onto offense. Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski had the best chances of that shift when they each took a try, Marleau’s shot hitting the post and Pavelski’s ending up in Grubauer’s glove.

After the game, Marleau spoke about the team’s improved play in the third period:

I think we got a lot more time in their zone so it was just trying to get to those loose pucks after we got shots from our point. I think the D played really well tonight, moving the puck back and forth and getting the shots through.

It would be nice to find a couple of those rebounds and put them in but for the most part, we’ll take the two points.

During the last four minutes of the game, McLellan made another lineup change, moving Marleau to the line with Thornton and Nieto, or so it seemed. Thornton was right back out with Burns and Nieto a couple of shifts later.

With a minute and 15 seconds left, the Capitals got their first power play when Marleau was called for hooking Grabovski. McLellan mentioned that after the game:

We almost got it to the point where we didn’t take a penalty, using our legs to check instead of our sticks or our hands. Worked until that last minute but the penalty kill did a good job.

Regulation ended in a tie, with the shots for the third period standing at 13-8 for Washington.

As the game went to overtime, the Capitals had 45 seconds remaining on the man advantage.

Two faceoff wins helped the Sharks kill that off, and the four on four play moved very fast after that. Good chances for Marleau and then Fehr came to naught, turnovers and takeaways kept attacks brief for both sides.

With just over a minute left in overtime, Marc-Edouard Vlasic pestered Jason Chimera relentlessly in the Sharks’ zone, staying with him all the way around the ice and behind the net, until Chimera lost an edge and went down. Still Vlasic kept after him, jostling him so he couldn’t get to his feet. Chimera finally did get up, and on the way he clocked Vlasic in the face with a quick left hand. No penalty was called, though Vlasic was clearly unsettled by the punch.

The teams survived the next minute without scoring and went to a shootout.

Of the six shooters, only Patrick Marleau scored:

I was just trying to use Logan’s move a little bit. He’s had some success with it so I just did that, went to the backhand a little bit then quick to the forehand.

Roster notes:
Matt Irwin back in the game after missing two games with injury. Scott Hannan sat, as did James Sheppard and Matt Tennyson.

The Sharks next play on Thursday in Florida against the Panthers. Puck drop at 4:30 pm PT.