Well, you knew that was coming.
It had been a tight series through 4 games - 3 games in OT and no 2-goal leads. But the San Jose Sharks have been threatening to break out for a couple of games now, and they did so tonight. In a big way.
The first period was a microcosm of much of the series. The Sharks dominated much of the play, outshooting the Avalanche 17-2. The also had two power play opportunities, while the Avalanche had none. And, yet, Craig Anderson and the defense were able to keep the Sharks off the board, and the score was 0-0 after 20 minutes.
I don't give a rat's ass about all that Corsi crap, but there was no way the Avalanche would be able to survive forever with that sort of disparity. Eventually, the dam would have to break. That happened in the 2nd period tonight.
The Avs actually had many of the early chances in the 2nd, but couldn't bang it home. A little after the 8 minute mark, the Sharks ended up on a rush. Patrick Marleau dished to Dany Heatley on the right wing, who slid a beautiful pass to rookie Logan Couture in front of Anderson. Couture made a terrific backhand deflection past Anderson to make it 1-0. Somewhere, Ryan Wilson is still looking to pick up a man, because he had no one on the play. Neither did Stephane Yelle. It's tough to stop a Shark's rush when 2 of the 3 men back are wandering around aimlessly.
Two minutes later, TJ Galiardi was called for holding the stick and the Sharks scored on the ensuing power play when Craig Anderson fell down outside of the crease, giving the Sharks a 2-0 lead - the first 2-goal lead in the series. Anderson again stumbled on the 3rd goal when Dwight Hedimen chipped a rebound up and over a sprawling Andy to make it 3-0. Considering the Avs were outshot 29-11 through 2 periods, that effectively won the game for the Sharks. Everything after that is not really worth talking about. Cody McLeod caused some trouble, before earning a 5 minute charging penalty on Jamie McGinn. Anderson gave up another goal...as did his replacement, Peter Budaj. And the Avalanche finally put some shots on net - 17 of them. None went in. San Jose skated away with an easy 5-0 lead.
The Avalanche are in trouble. They have no offense, they are taking way too many dumb penalties and the Sharks are not getting penalties at all. A good example was the Brandon Yip cross check in front of the bench midway through the first. It's the type of play that could have easily been ignored by the refs, but the called it. It's certainly a senseless play by Yip - there's no reason to give the refs a reason to blow the whistle. But it's really frustrating to see that called when similar plays by the Sharks have not been called (hello, Matt Duchene mugging).
But you can't blame this on the refs. Regardless of the uneven refereeing, the Avalanche are losing because they can't generate any offense. They aren't getting any sort of sustained pressure which hurts them offensively (obviously), but it also hurts them defensively. The more time spent in the San Jose zone, the less you'd see the Sharks in our zone. Darcy Tucker played a good game on the 2nd line, but he's no Milan Hejduk and he's no Peter Mueller. The Avalanche desperately miss those two players. The Avalanche now are in a must-win situation on Saturday. To get that win, they are going to need to find some offense.
Derek's Take: Coach Sacco said it best during his post game press conference, "We got we deserved tonight. We didn't play well enough for 60 minutes to win this game." Truer words have never been spoken. I don't really have much to say other than echo what DDC said above, the dumb penalties are going to be the death of this team. Bad officiating or not, if this team continues to not be strong on the puck and turn it over at the blue line...well, we all know what could happen on Saturday night. I'm not ready for this season to be over yet.
Paul's Take: I didn't want to jinx the game in my preview this morning, but in watching all the video and interviews over the last 2 days, I kept hearing the Avs talk about how hard that OT loss was in game 4. It seemed like the Avs were dwelling on that loss, thinking about what could have been (a 3-1 series lead) and that is never a good sign. Tonight also seemed like the culmination of whats been lurking just barely in the shadows this whole series, and tonight the Avs weren't able to escape the attack. Our beloved Avalanche play with their hearts on their sleeves, and they will play better Saturday, but I'm just not sure how much more they have left to give. Let's hope they can find it, and it's a lot.
Mike's Take: Nothing to take away from this one. It was the game the haters had been salivating for since the seeding was locked in. If the Avs want to have any chance in Game 6 at The Can they have to move past this one and bounce back. I'd like to see fewer penalties, more cohesive offense and breakouts that don't amount to a roll of the dice. The physical play has been surprising for the Avs, but I think it has helped wear down the team a little bit. All that being said, this hasn't even closely resembled the series I expected to see and I want to see it continue. The Avs win Game 6 and the series is a coin-flip. Which is kinda fitting when you think about it.