Hole Dug Too Deep- When a team falls behind by four goals in any game it usually does not bode well for the likely outcome. The Sharks did their best to rally from such a deficit but just could not find the tying goal before time ran out in a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver Saturday afternoon. Unlike the game in Anaheim four days earlier, the Sharks at least were able to make a game of it and be in position to score a game tying goal late and perhaps at least steal one point in the standings. Just like the game in Anaheim four days earlier, Antti Niemi was chased for the second time in three games after the Sharks fell behind by three. Colorado scored three of their four goals in a 66 span of the second period to quickly jump from a 1-0 to lead to a 4-0 lead. The Sharks fought back with goals from Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau in the second period, and Logan Couture in the third. As things turned out the damage was long done and the Sharks despite their best efforts have a loss to show for it and really nothing more. Goal-tending now becomes a concern to when you consider this was the front end of back to back games for the Sharks who play in Chicago Sunday evening.
Second Period Avalanche- The Sharks spent the entire first period getting the better end of the play against the Avs yet still trailed 1-0 after giving up a power play goal to Nathan MacKinnon. Things would quickly get out of hand for Team Teal in the second period as the Avs starting at the 4:53 mark of the period would strike for the first of three goals in 1:06 of playing time. It all started when both Mark-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Boyle lost control of a loose puck in front of the Sharks goal, turning it over to former teammate Jamie McGinn who then easily beat Niemi with a top shelf blast. Just a mere 54 seconds later Niemi maybe showed why he would make a bad short stop as a bouncing puck thrown towards him by the Avs Erik Johnson got past him and into the net giving the Avs a 3-0 lead. Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan at this point had seen enough of Niemi and pulled for the second time this week. Enter Alex Stalock who stopped all shots he faced except for just one, and that would be the first one. Just 14 seconds after Johnson’s goal the MacKinnon drilled a slap shot past Stalock to make it 4-0 Colorado. For the Sharks the hole was dug and they were in huge trouble. The Sharks to their credit did not throw in the towel and were able to fight their way back. Pavelski got the Sharks on the board with a power play goal two and a half minutes after the Avs onslaught had ended as he scored on a five-on-three man advantage during a Sharks power play. Just under two minutes after Pavelski’s goal, Marleau drilled a slap shot past Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov to get the Sharks back to within two goals at 4-2. The Sharks seemed to have taken back some of the momentum from the Avalanche but were not able to pull any closer in the middle period.
Comeback Falls Short- The Sharks were able to shut down the Colorado attack as they limited the Avs to just four shots on goal for the period. The Sharks meanwhile would get a number of decent scoring chances on Varlamov but just could not seem to solve him. Couture was able to get the Sharks to within a goal at the 5:44 mark of the period as he was able to knock in a rebound of a slap shot from Scott Hannan. The Sharks from there had well over 14 minutes to find the tying goal but simply could not. A late power play offered the Sharks their last and best chance for a tying goal but Varlamov was up to the task including stopping point-blank tries by Couture and Pavelski. In the end it was just too deep of a hole for Team Teal to dig themselves out of. The effort was there but not the end result. Coming out of Denver without getting at least a point in the standings is hard, however what may be harder now is the Sharks needing to quickly put this one behind them as they take on the Western Conference leading Blackhawks in Chicago early Sunday evening. In the two games in which Niemi has been pulled this week, he had given up a combine eight goals before McLellan came out with the hook. The three goals in 66 seconds were not entirely his fault as they Sharks just did not defend very well and allowed the Avs some rather easy scoring opportunities. However there probably has to be at least a little concern with the netminding going into this upcoming Blackhawks game which they can ill afford doubts about their goalies when considering Chicago’s line-up.
Twitter Quote- “We pushed back just came up short.” – Andrew Desjardins via @SanJoseSharks
Next Sharks Game- The Sharks are on their way to the windy and snowy city of Chicago where they will take on the defending Cup Champion Blackhawks tomorrow night (Sunday) at 5pm PT (7pm CT in Chicago). The game will be carried nationally on NBC Sports Net and heard on the Sharks Radio Network throughout Northern California.
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