The Avalanche were on top of the Sharks for the majority of the night, getting lots of opportunities to the net. But, with rookie goalkeeper Josef Korenar in net for the Sharks, he kept them in the game for much longer than it could’ve been.
The Avs came out strong, getting shots to the net ahead of the Sharks. With a lineup missing some big names like Ryan Graves and Samuel Girard, the big line came to play and carry the weight of the game.
Devan Dubnyk played his first game at home as well, making saves when he needed to. It also included the first home games of the season for Carl Soderberg and Patrik Nemeth (more to come on him later.)
Despite all the action, the Avs outshot the Sharks by more than double by the end of the first and ended scoreless into the break.
The Sharks came out to play more in the second period, getting things going forward for them. They could not get much going forward all night long. When they did, they did capitalize. Alexander Barabanov got his squad a power play goal 4:25 into the second to give the Sharks the lead.
The Avs then really came out to play, trying to respond and get the score even on the scoreboard. They threw everything plus the kitchen sink at Korenar, who stood on his head to keep the Avs out of the net.
Finally, the Avs would breakthrough when Nathan MacKinnon received a beautiful pass from Conor Timmins up high to push it past Korenar to tie the game at one.
It would continue in a positive direction for the Avs, when Andre Burakovsky ripped one three minutes later to get the monkey off his back and give the Avs a 2-1 advantage.
The high-energy affair of the second period gave the Avs some major energy and only helped their domination they held throughout the game. They entered the room looking to pull away in the third.
The third period would go back-and-forth, and move pretty fast (at least that what it felt like in the stands for me personally). The Sharks could not get much going forward still, but Dubnyk did make some big saves along the way.
Back to Nemeth, he came off the bench and on his first touch on the ice, absolutely smoked one past Korenar for his first goal on his return to the Avalanche and give the Avs a 3-1 lead.
Right after, the Avs went on the power play looking to kill off the game. It would backfire though, as Logan Couture would get a short-handed goal. Not only this, but the Avs challenged for goaltender interference and lost, having to play 4v4 and have a short PK afterwards.
The fans would be on pins and needles from here on out, knowing one shot could make a difference on a short-handed team. However, Mikko Rantanen would temporarily put those worries to rest, tipping in an insurance goal at 15:34 to make it 4-2.
Despite the two-goal lead, the Sharks would not give up. They pulled the goaltender and made things interesting, when Tomas Hertl tipped in a shot of his own to make it 4-3 with just over two minutes left.
The Avs never got a good look at the empty net 200 feet away, and the Sharks would make things really nerve-racking to the end, but the Avs would hang on to win their second straight against the Sharks in back-to-back games.
The Avalanche well and truly missed Rantanen. In the last two games, he has shown why he is such a key piece to this Avs lineup. He was the first star of the night with a goal and two assists. When he missed the last few games due to COVID protocols, the Avs struggled. Since his return, he looks as if he hasn’t skipped a beat.
Saturday’s game was by far the best game of Timmins career. Stepping into the lineup to injuries like Girard, Graves and Bowen Byram, he is proving to Jared Bednar that he deserves a spot in the team come playoff time, He was the third star of the night, but very well could have been the first star in lots of fans’ hearts.
The Avalanche have won the first two of four against the Sharks. With the Sharks out of the playoff picture, the Avs will look to get hot and get the best of the Sharks through the start of next week and the best of the Los Angeles Kings.
The Avs will face the Sharks, but in the bay area on Monday night. Puck drop is set for 8:30 MT.