Two struggling teams on losing streaks faced off tonight in Denver. Somebody's woes would continue.
First Period: The Avalanche came out with a lot of jump, especially Galiardi who was FLYING, but everything was nonthreatening from the outside. As I mentioned in the preview, the Avs have been frequenting the penalty box, and Cody McLeod made sure to keep that trend alive with a charging call a little past half way through the first (pretty friendly call for SJ I might add). Luckily, the Sharks powerplay is struggling and the Avs Penalty kill looked great after working hard on special teams in practice Monday, and held the visiting squad to zero shots on their man advantage.
The first period was quietly winding down and it looked like a fairly uneventful 20 minutes of hockey, but then my oh my, Stefan Elliot! The rookie grabbed the puck on a San Jose dump-in at his own red line, then shot up the ice like a scud missile going coast to coast and burned a wicked wrist shot past Niemi far side. Unassisted goal. Fantastic individual effort. Smart play at the right time. All around sick play from the youngster. Avs take a 1-0 lead into the 2nd.
Second Period: Galiardi got whistled for highsticking just 1:25 into the period as he kept Marleau from scoring right in front. With just 9 seconds left on the penalty Dan Boyle fought hard, marching the puck along the blueline, and found McGinn for the redirection. No chance for Varly. Game tied 1-1. Minutes later, Landeskog found Quincey who rang a rolling puck off the crossbar for a great chance, but no dice. The Avs carried the majority of the play until Dan Boyle crept into the slot area and put one past the Avs' netminder. The Avalanche suffered from several defensive miscues on the play as they scrambled to cover the the swarming Sharks who obviously smelled blood in the water - or ice. 2-1
Dan Boyle Sharks.
The new Stastny line threw down the best shift of the game to end the period, but couldn't find twine.
Third Period: Duchene got hit head first into the boards to kick off the third period - no call. To be fair, it probably wasn't a penalty because he just caught the boards, but if McLeod gets that charging call in the first, then Marleau's hit on Dutchy could have easily been penalized. Moments later, at the tail end of a tremendous shift by the Avs, Martin Havlat pushed Shane O'Brien into Niemi and they both went off for 2 minutes. On the subsequent 4-on-4, Stastny walked in and made a great play, but was snubbed by the Sharks netminder. Later on the 4-on-4, Johnson sent a big slap shot on net that Niemi fought off but couldn't corral, and Daniel Winnink made a heads up play by pouncing on the rebound and tucking it home on the wrap around. Score tied 2-2, with the Avs out shooting the Sharks 30-19.
After the goal, the pace really picked up with great up and down play, resulting in the first powerplay of the game for the Avalanche. Some great passing on the man advantage from Hejduk set up Duchene who really took his time and went top shelf short side to take the lead, 3-2 Avs. And that goal snaps a 0-10 powerplay drought. The goal also really energized the crowd - who seemed great all game. Unfortunately, the Sharks also woke up after the goal and created multiple chances on their next shift while the Avs relaxed a bit. Varlamov wasn't ready to sit back and abruptly shut the door.
Just when it looked like the home team had it in the bag, San Jose pulled their goalie, and with 22 seconds remaining Logan Couture made a great pass to Marleau to tie it up at 3. Varlamov got a piece, but it was a quick play right in front and Marleau's swat at the puck found a way in.
Overtime: Duchene was inches from winning the game, but Brent Burns poked the puck out of the crease and out of harm's way. Just like the first 60 minutes, OT was dominated by the Avs, but the score stays even.
Shootout: It took 5 rounds, but the Avs do it! Hejduk: GOAL. Handzus: SAVE. Duchene: SAVE. Havlat: SAVE. O'Reilly: SAVE. Pavelski: GOAL. Jones: SAVE. Clowe: SAVE. Landeskog: GOAL! Winchester: POST
Great third period from the Avs, extremely disciplined, despite allowing the tying goal. It was a solid 65 minute effort. The Avalanche were the better team tonight and deserved to win.
MHH Avalanche 3 Stars of the Night
- Matt Duchene
- Milan Hejduk
- Stefan Elliot
- Landeskog - O'Reilly - Hejduk
- Galiardi - Stastny - Duchene
- Jones - McClement - Winnik
- McLeod - Malone - Hunwick
- Quincey - O'Byrne
- O'Brien - Johnson
- Elliot - Hejda
- Landeskog said the team was "challenged" during the second intermission and that really helped them come out with purpose in the third.
- Varlamov played a solid game and had no chance on any of the 3 goals against.
- Erik Johnson needs to stop thinking and just play with some urgency and instincts. Less Wolskiing around and more skating please. He did that in the third and was much better defensively and more dangerous offensively.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
Sharks and Avs complete their home and home series in San Jose, Thursday, 8:30pm Mountain.