The Colorado Avalanche blew a two-goal lead and dropped their season finale to the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Wednesday night.
This game marked the highly anticipated debut of rookie forward Alex Newhook who was coming off an impressive showing in the AHL — nine points in eight games with the Colorado Eagles. The rookie forward looked comfortable for large stretches of the game and did not appear to let the big stage deter his game.
Newhook took the traditional solo lap in pregame warmups:
This is your moment, Newhook!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/crE39rOnpF— x - Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) May 6, 2021
The opening frame proved fairly uneventful as both teams would trade a couple of chances, but for large parts of the period it seemed to be a feeling out process — which was strange considering this game marked the eighth and final meeting between the two clubs this season.
The Avs were sloppy for the first half of the second, but turned up the intensity in the latter half of the middle stanza. Colorado sustained pressure in the San Jose zone with plenty of great puck movement and cycling. The boys were buzzing and it all came to fruition as Tyson Jost collected the puck off of a rebound and buried a backhander past Josef Korenar for his fourth goal of the season.
Colorado would add to the lead less than three minutes later after a great save from Grubauer lead to a rush down the ice. Nazem Kadri made a slick pass to find Andre Burakovsky in the right circle who fired a shot that beat Korenar.
It appeared as if the Avs would take a two-goal lead into the second intermission with just 20 minutes of hockey left to play, but Sharks forward Tomáš Hertl has other plans. With just about 20 seconds left, the Sharks won a faceoff in their own zone and ended up catching the Avs playing lazy defense leading to a two-on-none — Evander Kane slid the puck to Hertl who deflected a no doubter past Grubauer.
The third period was the most frustrating of the game as the Avs did not appear ready to fight for two points.
Hertl found the back of the net again after winning a puck battle down low with Cale Makar and tucked a backhander around the outstretched pad of Grubauer and just like that the game was tied.
The Avs continued their lackadaisical play and the captain Gabriel Landeskog ended up taking a hooking penalty midway through the third period which lead to the game-winner from his fellow countryman Erik Karlsson.
The Avs continue a maddening trend of taking significant chunks of games, if not entire periods, off. That’s a losing recipe and something the team will need to address before heading into the postseason — they will not be playing games against sub-.500 squads and the intensity will be dialed up multiple notches which will spell absolute disaster for this Avs team if they don’t clean up their act.
Despite the loss, the Avs still control their own destiny in their quest for the top spot in the Honda West Division. They currently sit four points back of the Vegas Golden Knights (Vegas defeated Minnesota in overtime tonight, 3-2), but have a game in hand and a matchup against the Knights coming up next Monday night as well.
The loss this evening also snapped the Avs’ impressive mark of 27-0-1 when entering the third period with a lead.
Head Coach Jared Bednar when asked about how Alex Newhook faired in his debut said that he looked pretty good out there tonight - Bednar applauded his competitiveness and thought he made smart decisions with the puck. The rookie finished the game with 13:20 TOI, a +1 rating, with a shot on goal and two takeaways.
The Avs head down the Golden Coast for a two-game set with the LA Kings on Friday night (5/7). Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00PM MST and the game can be found on Altitude 2 and BSW.