Game 75 Recap: Battle of bad bounces. Sharks steal it 4-3.

San Jose:

Damn those rubber pucks and their rubbery bounciness.

The Avs came out with some much needed urgency and played well in the first period. The Avs got the game's first power play as a result of the Sharks instigating a fight with Matt Hendricks after some incidental contact sent a Sharks player dangerously into the boards. But they couldn't find the twine even with the return of Peter Mueller. Shortly thereafter, the Sharks scored a power play goal with 9:09 left in the first on their first PP of the night. Dan Boyle threw a wrister on net that went through a crowd and found Setoguchi who directed the puck between Anderson's legs. 1-0 Sharks.

The Avs continued to hustle and play well the rest of the period but got outplayed physically. Luckily, the real Mr. Anderson showed up tonight and the Sharks couldn't capitalize on their aggressiveness.

Just over a minute into the 2nd period, Cody McLeod came streaking down the right wing and put a shot on net that surprised Greiss, who gave up a juicy rebound in the slot which Kevin Porter found and astutely sent home off a backhander to tie it up 1-1. I like this kid. Smart fundamental play. Just go to the net and get rewarded. Nice. This goal seemed to give the Avs some jump and they threw down several consecutive good shifts in SJ's zone. But it was the Sharks who had the best scoring chance when Heatley did a little crossover move on his way to the net, but Andy was there to make a great pad save. 

The Avs went on their second power play after a bonehead trip by San Jose going into the offensive zone. That PP turned into a 5-on-3 for a full minute and despite some quality chances (Duchene got robbed by Griess' elbow on a "who can out wait the other guy" play), the Avs couldn't capitalize on the 2 man advantage As the 5-on-3 expired and turned back into a 5-on-4, Peter Mueller (16 points in 12 games w/ Colorado) fired a slap shot that beat Greiss for a 2-1 Colorado lead. Welcome back Ferris!

The Avs clearly outplayed the Sharks in the second, but the Sharks got a lucky break with under 2 minutes left when a "harmless" shot from a bad angle bounced off Anderson and into two players charging hard to the net and then again ricocheted off the mess of bodies and into the net. Lame. But that's why you go hard to the net. 2-2 after 2.

Early in the third, the Sharks got yet another friendly bounce when Dan Boyle shot the puck on net and the puck bounced in off Ruslan Salei's leg. Give credit to Pavelski who was setting the screen in front of Anderson and causing the havoc that resulted in the dirty goal. 

Then it was the Avs who were the beneficiaries of a kind bounce when a Cumiskey blast from the top of the slot hit the post and careened in off a hard-charging Mueller and past Greiss. Tied again. 3-3. Back and forth game. Mueller fanned on a couple of big slap shots or else he could have had 4 goals at that point.

Anderson looked a little unsure playing the puck in the third, but his mates were there to bail him out for once. But, then, alas, another bad bounce as Joe Pavelski's shot form the point gets blocked by Anderson and redirected into Setoguchi and into the net. Seriously, lame goals. All these goals have in common the fact that players for either team were fighting for position or charging the net. 4-3 with under 6 to play.

The Avs pulled Anderson with a minute and a half to go and had a couple great chances off fantastic plays by Duchene, and a perfect read by Liles to keep the puck in play, but no more love from bouncing pucks. Duchene looked great all game again, but still seems a little snake bitten when it comes to scoring goals right now.

This was a frustrating game to lose as the Avs outplayed (or at least matched) the Shark's play, but got beat by a plethora of satanic bounces. Which leads me to believe that Todd McLellan is the spawn of Satan. Colorado outshot San Jose 45-32 overall, but were outshot in the third when it mattered most.

The Avs stay in the 8th and final playoff spot in the West, albeit a little less comfortably because Calgary dispatched Washington 5-3 earlier in the day. The Flames are now only 4 points behind the Avs who have 1 game in hand. The Avs need to muster up some mojo and take advantage of the fact that 5 of their last/next 7 games come at home.

Three Stars: (not sure anybody really "earned" these stars, but bounces are created by hard work usually, so here you go):

3rd Star: Thomas Greiss (42 saves)

2nd Star: Peter Mueller (2 goals)

1st star: Devin Setoguchi (2 goals, game winner)

A few game notes: Both teams were playing the second half of back-to-back games. The second half of this back-to-back set featured the early-ish start of 5pm, so in addition to playing last night and traveling, the Avs had a short turnaround between games. Joe Thorton (injured last night after slamming hard into the boards in the win against Vancouver) and former Avalanche Rob Blake (maintenance day ) both sat out this game for the Sharks. Liles was listed as playing on the wing but he seemed to be playing his (un)usual D position. Anderson made another consecutive back-to-back start on the heels of his less than impressive outing in Phoenix on Saturday. SJ played their back up netminder Thomas Greiss, as a team usually does on back-to-backs. Anderson, like the Avs overall, hasn't looked particularly dominant since returning from the Olympic hiatus. That has to change right now or it'll be an early summer.

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