The Colorado Avalanche entered their Thursday night game with a bit of breathing room, thanks to the St Louis Blues having trouble picking up wins.
Not like the Avalanche had been doing much of that on their west coast trip either, though, as they failed to pick up a win in the Golden State and dropped their third consecutive game 4-2 to the San Jose Sharks.
The first period did not go the Avalanche’s way right from the get go, as they saw the puck sail past Jonathan Bernier on a deflection off of Gabriel Bourque’s skate on a shot by Justin Braun at 2:58. From then on, the Avalanche would hold the fort down and even come out of the period up 25-20 in shot attempts but what they need at this point are goals.
The second period was entirely uneventful. The Avalanche killed off a Blake Comeau penalty and held serve in shot attempts 20-19 in the frame.
Things got more exciting in the third period when the teams traded power play goals. First the Avalanche at 4:33 from Mikko Rantanen on a blistering shot off of a rebound. Unfortunately the Sharks would answer right back at 6:00 from Logan Couture.
Joonas Donskoi would add the dagger at 10:14 when a scramble happened in front of the net and Bernier lost his stick. The Sharks had a two goal lead at that point and were ready to cruise to victory.
Comeau had other ideas when he redeemed his earlier penalties by tipping a David Warsofsky shot at 13:06 and the Avalanche had life again. Ultimately the Sharks would add an empty net goal and take home the victory.
Picking up only one point on their three-game California road trip should have spelled certain doom for the Avalanche, but what they received was a chance to win their way into the postseason in their last game of the season. That’s all any team can ask for, especially one trying to rebound from a horrific bottoming out last year. If nothing else, this entire season was meaningful down to the very last game and there’s a lot of joy and progress in that.
What can’t be lost is the fact that this is the first year in a process of building and one season with some fresh start energy which exceeded expectations shouldn’t fool anyone that there is not a long road ahead to ultimate success. It is good experience for the team and especially the young players if they can build off of this year and find themselves in the same important situations for years to come. This isn’t a team which is one player away and a lot of collective growing plus more youthful additions will make real progress in the future.
The injury list is something to watch leading up to the final game on Saturday. Patrik Nemeth left the game midway in the third period after blocking a shot and did not return. Bernier has been battling illness and was questionable for this start. Rantanen missed practice the other day and might be nursing some type of ailment. Add that all to already missing Semyon Varlamov and Erik Johnson and there are health concerns. Mark Barberio did return from a 33 game absence in this contest and will be able to help fill some of those holes.
The biggest game in the four years will take place back home at the Pepsi Center on Saturday, April 7th at 7pm MT against the St Louis Blues. Win or stay home.