It was yet another game between the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks in what will be a tedious final two weeks to close out the regular season. Despite each team heading in opposite directions this game felt a lot closer than the standings would indicate. The better team ultimately prevailed, however, as the Avalanche erased a two-goal their period deficit and eventually found their first lead of the night in overtime for a 5-4 final score,
It was the home team who drew first blood when Evander Kane took advantage of several defensive miscues at 3:20 to put the Sharks up 1-0.
That lead did not last long, however, when Mikko Rantanen deposited a juicy rebound left by Sharks goaltender Martin Jones just over two minutes later. Rantanen’s ability to create out of thin air was sorely missed in his four-game COVID-19 protocol absence.
The period ended in a 1-1 tie and with the Avalanche a commanding lead in the shot total 13-5 and looked primed to ride the momentum into the following periods.
The Avalanche have owned the second period this season with an incredible +33 goal differential but this one did not go their way. The Sharks owned a -22 goal differential in second periods heading into this game but it was Tomas Hertl who converted a quick strike less than two minutes into the period. Evander Kane got another goal to extend the lead to 3-1 at 7:47 when he held off Cale Makar and suck the puck past Philipp Grubauer.
There was hardly any push back from the visitors as they allowed themselves to get outshot 13-2 in the second frame and even had a thwarted power play to boot. Improbably the score was 3-1 Sharks after two periods and the Avalanche would need to execute a third period comeback, which they haven’t done all year.
The Avalanche started the third period exactly how they needed to with a quick goal just over a minute into the frame from Val Nichushkin. It was another rebound off of an Andre Burakovsky shot which Jones did not handle well and Nichushkin just beat out Burakovsky to the loose puck and converted the score.
Any momentum gained from that goal was short lived when Timo Meier solved the entire top line and defensive pair of the Avalanche to put the Sharks’ fourth goal past Grubauer at 3:32. Time was starting to run out for the Avalanche to overcome yet another two-goal deficit.
Gabe Landeskog made it a game again when he conjured a goal out of thin air at 8:59 on a goal Jones probably wished he had tracked better.
Nazem Kadri picked a great time to score his first goal since March 22nd with just under four minutes left in regulation. Finally one of the chances he generated found the back of the net as he was able to deposit the puck over Jones at a sharp angle. Now all the Avalanche had to do was hold on for overtime.
Andre Burakovsky was the hero 41 seconds into overtime as he no doubt was the goal scorer of this one. Burakovsky has a heavy shot but Jones let the puck bounce off his glove and trickle into the net but the Avalanche will take it and secure their 34th victory of the season.
BURAKOVSKY WITH THE GAME WINNER!!! 41 SECONDS INTO OVERTIME!! Wow, I love this team. Assists to Makar and Rantanen. pic.twitter.com/2eBuvkyHck— Avs Goal! (@ThreadsOfGoals) May 4, 2021
As the Avalanche enter ultra secrecy mode their lineup changes won’t be heavily advertised or timely. Ryan Graves returned from a one-game absence but that did not change the defense’s performance much in this contest. Devan Dubnyk also quietly entered the COVID-19 protocol list on the day and was revealed after the game it is indeed a positive test and he will be out of action for the next two weeks.
Some of the same issues which have plagued the Avalanche lately popped up in this game but shouldn’t be written off by the dramatic win or meaningless nature of the rest of the regular season. Problems don’t vanish in the playoffs but instead they lead to early exists. Getting key pieces back such as Sam Girard and Brandon Saad will help but there’s no guarantee other important players won’t be missing by then either. The Avalanche have to learn how to manage their depth and create the best possible lineup with who is available.
In a night where Vegas lost to Minnesota it was disappointing to see there was little urgency to take advantage of the opportunity to climb the standings from the onset of this game. The two points gained tonight on Vegas with still one game in hand and now only two points back could set up an interesting final regular season meeting between the two teams but the Avalanche will have to continue to take care of business against San Jose and Los Angeles for the rest of the week.
The final game this season series in San Jose against the Sharks on Wednesday, May 5th at 7:30pm.