A full-team effort ensued as the Avalanche received goals outside the top line and put in a defensive effort which earned a 4-0 shutout.
The first period was bookended by great individual efforts. First Valeri Nichushkin got around the Sharks defense with his signature power move and then pushed the puck past Martin Jones just 45 seconds into the in which would be a tone setter for the rest of the evening.
A number of unconverted chances and a fruitless power play followed for the rest of the period but none other than Cale Makar would ensure that the frame ended just like it began. On a faceoff win from Nazem Kadri with three seconds to go in the period Makar rifled the puck through the entire Sharks team and the puck was past Jones before he knew what was happening. Makar tied franchise scoring records with this his tenth goal of the season.
Although it took longer for the second period’s first tally it was a familiar play as Ryan Graves took the puck from Vladislav Kamenev on a faceoff and blasted the puck past Jones at 9:59.
Now the Avalanche just needed a special teams score and it was Matt Calvert who would deliver on a short handed breakaway at 12:42. Calvert barreled his way towards Jones and was able to sneak the puck past him in what ended up as the dagger goal as the period ended 4-0 for the home team.
One bit of drama ensued when the Sharks began trying to rough things up on the way to their loss. Kadri and Timo Meier were given misconducts and then Evander Kane decided to give Sam Girard a very late and dirty hit along the boards with three minutes to go. Girard seemed ok as he played on the ensuing power play but it was absolutely unnecessary to take a shot like that.
- An uneventful third period is exactly what the Avalanche needed as they shut the door and didn’t allow San Jose a goal in garbage time. After so many late game mishaps hopefully this builds some confidence moving forward in more competitive games.
- Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season and the team’s second. After so many uneven performances it was satisfying to see him earn that shutout for the tenth time in his career. Grubauer made a couple big saves even if the Sharks did not look dangerous much of the night.
- Taking care of business will need to become the Avalanche’s motto through the remainder of the regular season as they own the league’s easiest strength of schedule down the stretch. This was one step towards making that a reality and will need to continue on with seven more games against the Sharks, LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks plus several bottom feeders from the eastern conference.
Another match with the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, January 18th as the first in a pair of 1pm MT matinees before the break.