The Avalanche and Sharks met for the second time in three nights, with the Avs looking for the sweep and the Sharks looking to split the series. This was the Sharks eight straight road game before they “return home” to Glendale to play “home games” in Arizona, so they were looking to end the road trip on a high note.
The Avs, after struggling through the first two periods, put the Sharks away 3-0 to sweep their two-game series. This was also the game that saw Bo Byram pass his father in NHL games played in his career, which was a proud accomplishment for the Byram family and something they had been looking forward to in Byram’s young NHL career so far.
The first period saw no scoring but a rash of offense for the San Jose Sharks, outshooting the Avs 7-6. While the SOG were close, the Sharks were mostly on top throughout the period. The Sharks went 0-3 on the PP with Girard, Rantanen, and Graves taking penalties. A couple of the Avs best chances came on the PK, including breakaways from P.E Bellmare and Kiefer Sherwood, which hit the post and were saved respectively.
P.E Bellemare also had a nasty injury with just under four minutes left in the first, colliding knee-on-knee with Ryan Donato in the neutral zone. He left the ice with help from the trainers in serious pain, not putting any weight on that left leg. Those who were in the arena made it sound as if it will be a serious setback for PE. He did not return to the game.
P.E. Bellemare is hurt and we heard him screaming in pain. Looks like right leg. Collided in neutral zone with a Shark.— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) January 29, 2021
The Avalanche got their own power play in the period before the Bellmare injury, which saw a weird deflection in front from Erik Karlsson that nearly bounced in past Dubnyk. Plus, there was another post hit from Nathan MacKinnon on the same power play. Philipp Grubauer came out strong besides a flat Avs team who looked to rebound for the second.
The Avalanche came out a lot quicker to start the second period, putting the Sharks on their heels. Devan Dubnyk stood on his head and the Avs could not squeeze pucks past him. This included a Joonas Donskoi post deflection shot from a pass behind the net, and a Bo Byram wrist shot from the right point that smacked off the post. This took the tally to four posts hit on the night for the Avs, with nothing bouncing their way. Throughout the period, both the Avs and the Sharks continued to block shots, staying strong on defense and not letting anything get to either goalie. The Sharks had 15 blocked shots through two, and the Avs had 10 blocked shots of their own.
One of the better chances of the period saw Tyson Jost about halfway through make a great move down the right side past the Sharks D-men, and got denied by Dubnyk as he rushed to the crease. A couple of late power plays for the Avs gave them chances to execute, but they could not do so. The best chance came with 20 seconds left on the clock, which saw a large goalmouth scramble after Dubnyk couldn’t control his rebound but the Avs could not force it into the net on the power play. The second period ended scoreless once again, but a chance to start the third strong with the power play carrying over from the end of the second.
The third period started just like the first two: with two more post shots from Mikko Rantanen and Andre Burakovsky respectively, bringing the total to six posts hit on the night. Things looked like they were going downhill as well when Devon Toews headed down the tunnel after blocking a shot with 15 minutes left in the period, and the Sharks looking more threatening to score the game’s first goal.
Finally, with 10:05 left, Nazem Kadri broke the deadlock after a scramble in front of the net saw Brandon Saad and Joonas Donskoi working hard down low to get the pass to Kadri who flipped it past Dubnyk and make it 1-0 to the good guys:
After the opening goal, the floodgates opened for the Avs who had gotten their confidence flowing. Just two minutes later, Kadri would make a beautiful saucer pass over a couple of Shark defenders sticks to Andre Burakovsky who deflected it past Dubnyk’s blocker to make it 2-0 to the Avalanche:
Things continued to look up too, as Devon Toews returned to the game after blocking a shot off his foot, but he took a penalty to give the Sharks a late power play. The Sharks could not convert, even after pulling Dubnyk with 2:45 left.
After the power play expired, the Avalanche got their own power play after Noah Gregor took down Gabriel Landeskog in a hard collision in front of the box. This allowed the Avalanche to kill off the game with a power play goal after Kadri again deflected a shot from Cale Makar from the point to make it 3-0 and give the Avalanche a gritty victory:
The Avalanche continue to have bad luck with hitting multiple posts each night, but despite this continued to push through. The Sharks were ready and more prepared for the Avs after their blowout loss on Tuesday night, keeping it scoreless until the third.
When the third period did come, the second line finally did their thing, scoring two of the three goals on the night. Nazem Kadri looks as if he has finally gotten out of his slump, being involved in all three goals on the night, ending with 2G and 1A. The second line in general looks as if they are finally coming into their own after their slow start to the season.
Philipp Grubauer gets his second shutout of the season, stopping all 21 of the Sharks’ shots and continues to be one of the most dominant players on the ice. If he can continue his form and stay healthy, Grubauer is on track to be one of the most dominant goaltenders in the Honda West Division and should have everyone on high alert.
The Avalanche are still having problems staying out of the box, giving the Sharks four power plays on the night. While the Sharks went 0/4 on the night, it has to be addressed sooner rather than later before it bites the Avalanche later on in the season.
After this result, Jared Bednar earns his 150th career win behind the bench for the Avalanche and will be looking to get even more as his tenure continues in the Mile High City. He will have to handle injuries to Francouz, Calvert, Bellmare, and possibly Toews as well in hopes of keeping his squad fresh and rolling.
The Avalanche will travel to Minnesota to start a four-game series against an old foe in the Minnesota Wild, and meet an old friend in Ian Cole, his first game against his former side.