The Colorado Avalanche went into tonight’s Game 6 against the San Jose Sharks facing elimination from the 2019 Playoffs. Despite the Sharks steps away from the Conference Finals, the Avs came out with confidence as the rabid fans at Pepsi Center provided the home ice advantage in this do-or-die game. It wasn’t an easy night, and even with the team’s top players playing at their best, it was unsung hero J.T. Compher and his two goals that led the way in the 4-3 OT victory to force Game 7. Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog combined for the overtime winner, while Philipp Grubauer stopped 19 of 22 for the win.
Letssssssssss GOOOOOOOOO!— Matt Calvert (@mattcalvert11) May 7, 2019
A desperate Avalanche team started off well in what could have been their last home game of the season. Players other than the top line played well early on, which was crucial to the Avs’ success in Game Six. JT Compher played particularly well in the offensive zone, deflecting a Nikita Zadorov shot from the point off the post in what was Colorado’s best scoring chance in the period.
The Avs’ had the first power-play of the evening as Kevin Labanc was called for holding against Carl Soderberg 12:06 into the period. Unfortunately, the Avalanche was unable to convert on the man advantage.
Another power-play for the Avalanche complements of a Joe Thornton trip on Matt Nieto was nullified by a penalty on Mikko Rantanen for tripping about 30 seconds later for a period of four-on-four play that ended with neither team scoring.
Many of the Avs’ shots on net came from the point, with strong players like Gabriel Landeskog using his size to screen the Sharks’ netminder Martin Jones as well as redirect pucks on net. Unfortunately, this positive play did not end in a goal.
Colorado dominated offensively as exhibited by their superior shots on goal, with 11 compared to San Jose’s five during the period.
The Colorado Avalanche continued their strong play in the opening minutes of the second interval by maintaining play in the offensive zone. This possession play was partly a result of the Avs’ dominance on the faceoff. Compher’s strong play led to an assist on the opening goal of the game via a two-on-one opportunity ended in a goal by Tyson Jost.
Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen took a dangerous hit to the thigh from Brent Burns and promptly went to the Avs’ locker room with an injury. Rantanen did return a few minutes later but looked have discomfort for the remainder of the period.
The Avalanche were gifted their third power-play of the night midway through the second period as the Sharks’ Michael Haley was called for roughing against the youngster Cale Makar. The power play unit kept possession but was unable to put the puck past Martin Jones.
Despite the lopsided play in favor of the Avs, the Sharks tied the game on a counterattack by the speedy Timo Meier who’s rebound was sent in by a Vlasic wrist shot at 14:36 in the period. The play shifted in favor of the Sharks in the last five minutes of the period and they would have taken the lead if not for the stellar play by Grubauer. The netminder’s right leg made a huge stop on the Sharks’ Logan Couture.
The Avalanche took back the lead with a minute remaining by who other than Compher? His one-timer from the point off the post was well-screened by Alexander Kerfoot in front.
The lead didn’t last long as Brent Burns’ wrist shot made the game 2-2 in the dying seconds of the second period. Not only did the second period tear the play wide open with two goals apiece, the teams also ended the period tied in shots-on-goal with eight.
The Sharks’ late goal in the second period didn’t bother the Avalanche, as they started out the third period with the upper hand. JT Compher put a backhand shot past Jones from in close for his second goal of the game. Alexander Kerfoot and Colin Wilson provided assists on the goal at four minutes into the third period.
Nathan MacKinnon would have extended the lead as the puck fell to him in the slot if it wasn’t for the strong defensive play by Sharks defenseman Brent Burns.
The final five minutes of the period was all Sharks as they attempted to tie the game with constant pressure on the Avs’ defense. Colorado couldn’t stave off the Sharks’ offence as Vlasic put the puck off Zadorov’s skate into the net with 2:28 remaining to tie the game 3-3. That was the third time the Avalanche lost the lead as tonight’s game went into overtime. The shots-on-goal were 24 to 21 in favor of the Avalanche at the end of regulation.
Would this be Colorado’s final game of the season or would they live to fight another day? Who’s ends the game a hero for his team?
Tonight it was captain Gabe Landeskog. It was a quick play that started and ended when Landeskog took a Makar pass and put his shot past Martin Jones to force Game 7 in San Jose.
With the Colorado Avalanche winning Game 6, the series will conclude in San Jose on Wednesday at the Shark Tank. the winner of that game will face either the St. Louis Blues or Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final, who are playing in their Game 7 Wednesday evening.