San Jose came out like rabid Sharks sniffing a feeding frenzy. Varlamov was tested early and often, with the best chance coming off a Patrick Marleau breakaway, but Varly flashed his left pad to stone the former San Jose captain. The relentless Shark attack led to two San Jose powerplays, allowing the Avalanche penalty kill to continue its killer play of late and kill off both penalties.
All that killing breathed life into the road team, leading the potent McGinn-Stastny-Jones line to draw a hard earned penalty during a long battle around the net. The powerplay generated a bevy of chances but the Sharks swam away unscathed. Note: the Avs really need someone who can rifle a one-timer on the man advantage. Mueller? Mueller?
San Jose got on the board in the second period when Avalanche killer Joe Pavelski (24 points in 27 career games against the Avs) was the fortunate recipient of fortuitous bounce; a blocked shot landed the puck right on his stick in front of an open net. To compound the misfortune, Hejda had crashed into Varlamov on the play making easy pickens for lil Joe. 1-0 San Jose.
Things got worse from there as the Sharks went up 2-0 when Desjardins beat Varlamov through a Shane O'Brien screen. Altitude announcers Mike Haynes and Peter McNabb went dead silent after the goal. You could hear the combined hope for the post season leave there lungs.
Shane O'Brien quickly atoned for his same team screen on a great play as Landeskog, O`Reilly, and #5 led a charge up ice. Landy hit O`Reilly in stride and O'Reilly held onto the puck for a Forsberg-like eternity before hitting wide open O'Brien standing along the goal line. Shane one-timed the puck past Niemi to cut the deficit to 1.
The Sharks regained their 2 goal lead after a viscous battle down low. The puck bounced out in front off a wraparound attempt and right to Torrey Mitchell who had slipped in. 3-1 San Jose. David Jones and Joe Thornton traded shots off posts after that, but the score would remain 3-1 going into the third.
Pavelski scored a powerplay goal to open the third period and that would effectively destroy the Avs evening and playoff chances. Empty-netter rounded out the final score.
The Sharks were the hungrier team tonight - which is pathetic if you think about it. With the talent they have on their roster, the mere fact that they are fighting for a playoff spot this time of year shows they have no heart. Maybe that's why they went out and got a heart and soul guy like Daniel Winnik. And yes, this may just be sour grapes talking, but if the Sharks do have heart, there's no doubt it is tiny, withered, and cold.
MHH Best Three Avs of the Night
- Ryan O`Reilly
- Shane O'Brien
- Landeskog - O`Reilly - Downie
- McGinn - Stastny - Jones
- Olver - Duchene - Hejduk
- McLeod - McClement - Kobasew
- Johnson - O'Brein
- Hejda - O`Byrne
- Hunwick - Wilson
- Ryan O`Reilly leads the NHL in takeaways. Fathers, lock up your daughters.
- Jamie McGinn and Daniel Winnik faced off against their former teams for the first time tonight. Winnik will probably sleep easier tonight.
- Duchene, please skate and shoot. That's it. 2 things. xoxo ~ MHH
- Wingels took a cheap shot up high on Landeskog in the final second of a 5-1 game. I think Jeremy Roenick would call that gutless.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Avalanche continue the 3-game road trip in Vancouver on Wednesday, 8pm MDT.