Midnight hockey at its finest was on display in this contest as the Colorado Avalanche traveled west to San Jose in a meeting with the Sharks. The Avalanche were hoping to build on their shootout win against Vancouver to place themselves back to a playoff spot.
The first period was controlled by the Sharks for the most part with a 9-6 advantage in shots and one goal in their favor on the scoreboard. Marcus Sorensen buried a loose puck off of a faceoff to give San Jose the lead at 4:18 in the period.
Timo Meier extended the lead just 2:35 into the second frame on a long range shot that got through goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The Avalanche would answer back however at 4:55 when Nikitz Zadorov buried a long shot of his own. Zadorov leads the Avalanche defensemen in goals with seven now.
Pressure began to mount from the home team to close out the period with an 18-7 shot advantage. The Avalanche got stuck in their own zone for over three minutes and it was inevitable that San Jose would add to their lead. Just that did happen at 19:36 when Sorensen added his second tally of the game.
In the final period the Avalanche tried to make it a game multiple times with a much stronger effort. First, Mikko Rantanen converted at 10:08 on an ugly power play with a couple lucky bounces for his 28th goal of the year to bring the Avalanche back within one.
That lead would be short lived as Sam Girard took a questionable tripping penalty for his just third minor penalty of the year. The Sharks exploited the Avalanche penalty kill with some sharp passing and perennial Avs killer Joe Pavelski restored the two goal cushion at 12:39
Sam Girard fresh out of the penalty box and was determined to make up for his infraction made an aggressive signature spin move and just buried a wrister just under a minute later. The Avalanche were back in business and finally had some momentum.
Despite pulling the goaltender and a flurry of action in the final minutes, the Avalanche came up short in this contest. In what was first an overmatched and sleepy affair the were able to make the game interesting and a comeback possible at least.
This match in San Jose was always going to be a tough game for the Avalanche to pull out the victory but watching old habits from the collapse creep back in is a bit of a concern. Getting completely run over in the second period is not acceptable at any point for a team that aspires to make the playoffs.
The lineup is also slowly reverting back to the “normal” that existed during those dark months of December and January. The return of such payers as Ian Cole, Colin Wilson and Sheldon Dries need careful monitoring as each landed at under 35% Corsi for and with Wilson at an astonishing 11.76%. Adding veterans over youth is not always a positive impact.
Nikita Zadorov was one of the few who played a strong game in this contest start to finish. Aside from the goal he finished with 21:42 time on ice, five shots on goal, five hits and a 48.48% Corsi For. Consistency is something Zadorov still needs to work on but his contributions are important for this team.
Upcoming: The two-game road trip concludes at Anaheim on Sunday at 2pm MT.