An explosion in the second period propelled the San Jose Sharks to a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“We, well, Jumbo, he likes to think of us as the difference makers. So that’s the way we want to play.”
The Sharks were lucky to escape the first period with the score tied 1-1. Despite Colorado having a seven-day break, it was the Sharks, not the Avs, who started the game flat-footed. Colorado’s fourth line opened the scoring, as Gabriel Bourque scored off a rebound just over two minutes into the game. Thornton said:
“The first period was a struggle to be honest with you. I don’t think we had too much energy early on. But we kind of felt our groove, as the middle of the game kind of went on.”
The Sharks were held to just one shot on goal through the first 10 minutes of the game. Colorado outshot San Jose in the first period 13-9. Labanc said:
“I think we’re a little bit tired. It was a long series with Vegas, but I think we kinda got going as the game went on and once we did, we were hard to play against.”
With 5:30 left in the first period, Logan Couture won an offensive zone faceoff to Burns, who cut into the slot and fired a shot on net. Gustav Nyquist picked up the rebound and outwaited Philipp Grubauer to score his first of the playoffs.
In the second period, Colorado continued to put on the pressure. Dylan Gambrell took a tripping penalty and the Avalanche extended their lead to 2-1 when Colin Wilson redirected Mikko Rantanen’s shot on the power play.
Only a minute later, the Sharks were back on the penalty kill. Brenden Dillon was called for a double minor high sticking call. However, the Sharks survived the four minutes of shorthanded time. Jones made a key save on Gabriel Landeskog, who tried to slide in a shot from in front of the net. Thornton said:
“The penalty kill was huge. It was huge … probably won us the game.”
With that, the momentum shifted to the Sharks. Sorenson blocked a shot, picked up the puck and raced towards the Colorado net alongside Thornton in a two-on-one break. Thornton one-timed Sorenson’s pass to tie the game at 2-2 with 9:55 left in the second period. Thornton said:
“That’s all [Sorenson]… He’s been skating real good. He hasn’t been getting rewarded, you know, too, too much. But tonight he played hard and carried our line for us.”
“That was a great goal. And Marcus, he was tired, so tired … But he got it through and Jumbo just made a good shot and it kind of got the whole rink going.”
The Sharks were applying all the pressure now, holding the Avalanche to zero shots on goal for almost six minutes through the last half of the second period.
With 3:58 before intermission, Labanc, who had one goal and three assists in Game 7 versus Vegas, scored to continue his hot streak. After receiving an outlet pass from Burns, Labanc deked through Rantenan’s legs and sniped top corner on Grubauer to give the Sharks their first lead of the game at 3-2. Thornton said:
“It was just a beautiful goal just, you know, he’s found some confidence from game seven and continued tonight, but just a world class goal, what can I say?”
Hard work continued to pay off for San Jose’s third line when Thornton and Sorenson battled for the puck behind the net, getting it to Burns at the point. With just a minute left in the second period, Burns blasted a shot from the point, which deflected into the net off of Colorado defenseman Cale Makar for a 4-2 Sharks lead. Thornton’s second assist of the game earned him 100 career playoff assists.
Timo Meier‘s empty-netter was the only goal of the third period.
Jones stopped 26 of 28 shots on goal on the way to the 5-2 win. Thornton said:
“We’re going to go as far as [Jones] wants to take us, and another great performance out of him tonight. He looks calm and just makes the game look easy back there right now. “
Game 2 will be at SAP Center Sunday at 4:30 p.m. before both teams head to Colorado for Game 3 Tuesday at 7 p.m.