Feb 26, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) scores on Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) during a shootout at HP Pavilion. The San Jose Sharks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Sharks Hang On, Edge Avs 3-2 in OT/Shootout

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A Win The Hard Way- Patrick Marleau’s goal in the 4th round of the shootout coupled with three saves by Antii Niemi, including the final one on Colorado’s John Mitchell gave the Sharks a hard fought 3-2 win in returning home from a bad road trip which saw team teal lose five of six games. The win for the Sharks was only their second in their last 11 games as they are trying to find their way back from one of the worst skids in franchise history after winning their first seven games. With the victory the Sharks climb back into 7th place in the tight lower half of the Western Conference Standings. The Sharks had a lot of chances and made it a very busy night for Avs’ goalie Semyon Varlamov who stood tall in the net with 39 saves. Niemi was fairly busy himself making 25 saves. The Sharks had another strong night on the penalty kill while the power play while coming close a few times still failed to score going 0 for 5 on 14 shots on goal.

Couture’s Fast Start- The Sharks came out of the gate in a big way as they wasted very little time giving the sell out crowd at the Shark Tank something to cheer about. Logan Couture’s goal just 25 seconds into the game gave team teal a quick 1-0 lead. Couture scored after his first shot on goal was blocked by Varlomov. However, the puck bounced towards Joe Thornton who passed it back out towards Couture who drilled a second shot on goal just as he appeared to be tripped. Varlomov was trying to get reset just as Couture returned the puck in his direction. Varlomov could not reset himself quick enough and saw the puck go right over him into the back of the net. The Sharks would continue to carry the play though the first half of the opening period as they tested the Avs netminder early and often. Varlomov however was equal to the task the Sharks presented and came up with quite a few impressive saves. One could say that the Sharks launched an “Avalanche” of scoring opportunities however could not get anything more than Couture’s goal for all of their efforts.

Zoning A Problem- One problem that has plagued the Sharks recently amongst many is their troubles in keeping teams from setting up shop in their defensive zone. The Sharks did a better job of keeping their defensive zone clear in this game but still paid for a couple of occasions where they didn’t. The Avs swarmed the Sharks side of the ice in the second half of the opening period and finally it would pay off when Chuck Kobasew would block Jason Demers attempt to clear the puck in front of the Sharks goal, then quickly slid the rubber biscuit past Niemi to tie the game. Niemi was not able go get reset once Demers got pick pocketed. The Sharks would outshoot the Avs 16-11 for the opening period but could only come out of the first period with a tie game.

Galiardi Time- The Sharks started the second period in almost the same fashion which they began the game, getting more scoring chances and looks at the Avs goal. Former Av and current Shark TJ Galiardi reintroduced himself to his former team just 2:55 into the middle frame. Galiardi took a feed pass from James Sheppard and wristed the puck past Varlomov to restore the Sharks one goal lead at 2-1. For Galiardi it was his first goal of the season, and for the Sharks it was certainly a well timed goal. The Sharks would keep the pressure on Colorado through the middle period as they pelted Varlomov with 13 more shots on goal, including several shots from two team teal power play opportunities. The Sharks, who’s power play was a minuscule 3 for their last 46 tries entering this game, still would have hard luck as they were unsuccessful twice more despite some very good scoring chances. The Avs would get a power play later in the period when Thornton was called for goalie interference during the Sharks second power play of the period. However the team teal penalty kill, which has been a life saver for the Sharks this season stood tall in the saddle again keeping the Avs off of the scoreboard.

More Chances Lead To More Frustration- The final period was one for the Sharks where Larry Robinson, speaking to Brodie Brazil on the Sharks bench before the period started noted that the Sharks needed to push the pace and not be content to sit on a one goal lead. “We have to get the next one” Robinson told Brazil. For the Sharks however just as most things have gone so far for them this season after the first seven games, this would not play out quite the way team teal would have hoped or planned. The Avs would bring harder attacking and level more hits against the Sharks who found themselves doing exactly what Robinson had ill advised, nursing a one goal lead though the final period. After an early push against the Avs, the Sharks would soon find the Avs pushing back. The Sharks did have a power play opportunity over six minutes into the period when the Avs’ PA Parenteau would be called for tripping. Two more minutes for the Sharks on the power play would only result in two more minutes of frustration despite some good looks.

The Avs soon found themselves still hanging around and in easy striking distance. The Avs would soon get a power play opportunity where Martin Havlat would go to the penalty box for holding. Colorado would not score on this power play either however they did pick up momentum that would carry them through much of the period as they started to control the Sharks defensive zone. The longer the Avs stayed, the more scoring chances they would get. With 3:16 left in regulation, Colorado struck pay dirt when Mark Olver won a battle for the puck in front of Niemi and knocked it past the Sharks net minder to tie the contest. The goal was reviewed however the replay showed the puck had clearly gone into the net. The Sharks would get a late power play chance, their fifth of the game when former Shark Jamie McGinn would be called for high sticking when he pulled down Brad Stuart. The Sharks would get some more good looks however would need to carry the man advantage into overtime. Once in the overtime period with a now four on three man advantage the Sharks would only manage one shot on goal. That shot came from Thornton who got a lot of mustard on his chance requiring Varlomov to make a highlight real save.

Fifth Shootout Of The Season- The Sharks once again found themselves in what has become a somewhat familiar situation, another shootout at the Shark Tank. The Sharks were 2-2 in shootouts at home, dropping the last two versus Nashville and Phoenix. Michal Handzus got the Sharks off on the right foot wristing his attempt past Varlomov. The next two Sharks attempts from Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle would be turned away. Meanwhile, Niemi denied the first two Avs shooters, Milan Hejduk and Gabriel Landeskog. Colorado’s third shooter Parenteau wristed a shot that looked for a moment like Niemi has stopped it. The puck then appeared to squirt underneath Niemi and rolled into the net to tie the shootout at a goal apiece. In the fourth round the Sharks called on the team’s all time leading goal scorer Marleau to see what he could do. Marleau showed he still has plenty in the tank and beat Varlomov “five-hole” to give the Sharks the lead in the shootout. It came down to Mitchell, one of the Avs top scorers who put a shot on Niemi that seemed to go wide and allowed the Sharks netminder to make a kick save and secure a win the Sharks desperately needed just for maybe psychological reasons if nothing else.

Shark Bytes- The Sharks had two of the games three stars with James Sheppard getting the third star while TJ Galiardi got the first star. The second star of the game went to Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov who earned his keep in this game. Tommy Wingles and Brent Burns were held out of the game with injuries. The next goal Marleau scores (non shootout ofcourse) will be his 400th of his career. Marleau has scored 12 goals this season. Joe Pavelski lead the Sharks with six shots on goal. Matt Irwin was recalled Tuesday from Worcester. The AHL Sharks also loaned Yanni Gourde to the San Francisco Bulls, the Sharks ECHL affiliate.

Next Sharks Game- Thursday Night the long time Western Conference rival Detroit Red Wings make their way to the Shark Tank for a match with the Sharks. The two rivals renew their acquaintances starting at 7:30pm (PT).

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