SAP CENTER — Through the first few months of their 2013-2014 campaign, the San Jose Sharks have showed a knack for late-game ties, messy third period play and overtime action that carries into multiple-round shootouts.
Their pre-Christmas tilt with the Colorado Avalanche was no exception.
After the Sharks blew a one goal lead with less than two minutes left in regulation, Joe Pavelski tied things up for Team Teal with 20 seconds left on the clock, carrying them into their seventh overtime and shootout in their last twelve home games, which they won in dramatic fashion, 5-4.
Head coach Todd McLellan, however, was not such a fan of letting the visitors get ahead so late in the game:
“Disappointing that we couldn’t hold on (to the lead) for whatever reason. I thought we played a pretty solid third. We weren’t on our heels, we didn’t back off, but sometimes that happens.”
Colorado had the offensive edge in the opening stanza and made good on their first power play attempt. Nathan MacKinnon snapped the puck towards San Jose’s net and it deflected off of Andrew Desjardin’s skate and past Antti Niemi (29 saves), putting the visitors on the board 1-0.
But Jason Demers answered back for the Sharks on their own power play, snagging a fluid pass from Joe Thornton and beating Semyon Varlamov (41 saves) to tie it up 1-1. Brent Burns also registered an assist on the goal.
The Sharks power play, which has finally started to produce positive results, had a lot to do with Monday night’s outcome. Thornton explained:
“It’s the reason pretty much you win or lose in the NHL right now…You know, our PP hasn’t been very good. We’ve been able to win a couple games without it, but tonight it was something we needed…”
San Jose looked to put one more on the board before the period was over, with Logan Couture in the paint trying to break his current goal-less streak.
But a turnover headed in the other direction worked in the Av’s favor and Gabriel Landeskog’s wrist shot gave Colorado a 2-1 advantage heading into the first intermission.
The Sharks opened up the second frame evening up the shot count with the Avs but couldn’t seem to put the puck past Varlamov.
Finally, at 5:53 into the second, Burns’ slap shot beat Varlamov top shelf to tie the game back up 2-2. Thornton and Matt Irwin tallied assists.
Irwin then notched his second goal of the season on the Sharks second power play attempt of the evening, with a shot from the point that put San Jose on top 3-2.
Burns said afterwards of the dominant second period:
“I think we pride ourselves a lot on the second period. Especially at home. We get a good change, keep the momentum going. Some nights it feels like it’s going well, and tonight was one of those nights.”
Niemi came up huge for the Sharks in the third frame as the Avalanche gained momentum headed towards the end of regulation. It looked as though San Jose would be able to hang on for a regulation win, but two quick Colorado goals with less than two minutes left the game put San Jose in the hole 4-3.
Irwin talked about the mood on the bench when Colorado took the sudden lead:
“There wasn’t much talk, I think we all knew that we had about a-minute-and-whatever left to get the tying goal.”
But with 19.6 seconds left to play and Niemi pulled to allow an extra skater on the ice, Pavelski skated up to the paint and his slap shot beat Varmalov for the 4-4 tie, taking the Sharks into a another overtime — and shootout — battle.
Thornton, who recently became linemates with No. 8 in the most recent shuffle of the offense, complimented Pavelski’s recent surge in performance:
“He’s playing well. Pav is finding himself in front of the net wide open, and he has a real nice shot. Tonight he complimented me and Burns so well, he’s such a smart player.”
Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture scored the two shootout goals to give the Sharks the final 5-4 victory.
The Sharks return home after the holiday week for a late weekend showing against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Sharks are now 8-6-1 in games in which they trail first. Their .533 winning percentage in this situation ranks second in the entire NHL. …San Jose had two power play goals, the eighth time this season they’ve had multiple power play goals in a game. … Joe Thornton had three assists, the second time this season he has registered three or more points (10/15 @ STL). …Brent Burns and Matt Irwin had multi-point games. … Jason Demers has now scored a goal in consecutive games. It marks the first time in his career he has scored a goal in consecutive games.