Continuing on their road trip the Colorado Avalanche stopped in San Jose to begin the week and a new two-game set. Unfortunately the same problems the Avalanche saw last week returned and resulted in another 6-2 beating this time at the hands of a Sharks team who has been enduring their own struggles.
A sloppy first period for both teams still saw the Avalanche lead the shot advantage 11-7 and then they finally would convert near the end of the frame for a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. After a second failed power play for both teams Sam Girard took matters into his own hands and scored at 18:32 a minute after he rang a shot off the post on the man advantage. The goal came two seconds after the power play, in which Girard also drew the penalty, had expired.
The second period began with some power play success, this time with Gabe Landeskog executing a perfect backhand at 4:21. Some nice passing and movement forced the Sharks into a tight box and the Avalanche just picked their spot. The game appeared to be in control at this point but there was over half a game yet to play.
The momentum quickly turned as the Sharks took advantage of poor coverage from the fourth line and Radim Simek cut the lead in half at 6:13. The game opened up for the rest of the period with both teams trading chances but it was the Sharks who evened the score from Kevin Labanc at 16:48 after he was lost in front of the net. Despite the miscues this game was still tied 2-2 heading into the final period.
Just one goal from the Avalanche would have stopped the bleeding but it never came. Instead the Sharks sensed fear in their opponent and took control quickly. The Sharks proceeded to score four unanswered from Rudolfs Balcers, Erik Karlsson, John Leonard and Evander Kane on an own goal, the power play, a breakaway and an empty net goal respectively. While the game was wide open as the Avalanche became desperate any danger they had earlier in the game was wiped away and resulted in a pathetic 6-2 loss.
The defensive breakdowns will get the attention in the aftermath of this game and deservedly so however the offensive impotence caused the situation to begin with. The first goal was scored at even strength technically two seconds after a power play had expired but beyond that the Avalanche generated little at 5v5. The excuses of a hot goaltender or key injuries at forward were not present for this game and it’s time to face the fact that somehow this team cannot erase a deficit with all the scoring talent they possess.
That all said about the offense, the defensive performance must be addressed. While everyone on the ice can share the blame from this game but JT Compher and Nazem Kadri continue to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time in multiple times a game in the middle of defensive breakdowns and each had a starring role on key goals against in this one. Bowen Byram was surprisingly ruled out with an upper body injury just before the game began which did not help matters on an already taxed defensive core.
It is time to start taking the standings seriously with a third of the season now in the books. It was cute to ride on the “favorites” and “contender” status but the reality is this team hasn’t earned those labels. The condensed schedule with multiple games against the same teams tend towards a split anyway, add in the fact that each night sees multiple division games go to overtime and the result is it is very difficult to make up any ground or separation among the other West teams. The Avalanche are in danger of falling out of a playoff spot with games in hand rapidly evaporating.
Game two of this matchup against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, March 3rd at 8:30pm MT.