Brent Burns scores twice, but the San Jose Sharks comeback fell short as Philipp Grubauer and the Avalanche hung on to a 4-3 victory in Game 2.
The San Jose Sharks rallied once again late in a third period, but this time, the hole was too deep to dig out of.
In a series of momentum swings, the Avalanche took control and locked down defensively to hold on to a 4-3 victory at SAP Center in Game 2 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
For the second consecutive game, the Sharks were without their captain Joe Pavelski, so the core group had to step up in his absence.
Normally, Pavelski would be waiting in front of the crease to tip-in a Brent Burns slap shot from the point, but Evander Kane took the leap of faith into the dangerous area and got rewarded early on.
Burns deked by a defender and wristed the trickling puck toward the blue paint. Kane tucked home the loose rebound to give San Jose an early 1-0 lead. It was Kane’s second goal of the playoffs, and the exact spark No. 9 needed back on his stick.
As the first period wound down in the final minute, both goaltenders sprawled to make sensational saves. Jones stuck the blocker out to deny a crashing Avalanche shot while Philipp Grubauer flashed the leather, robbing Kevin Labanc of a point-blank snipe in the dying seconds.
To start the second, San Jose and Colorado exchanged high-quality scoring chances, but the goalies were up to the test.
At the 8:21 mark of the second period, Nathan Mackinnon’s line turned on the jets, and after a minute-long cycle in the offensive zone, Tyson Barrie slapped a shot from the point and Gabriel Landeskog redirected the puck over Jones’ shoulder for the equalizer.
Things began to fall apart from there. From then on the Avalanche aggressively outnumbered and outplayed the Sharks on the attack.
A controversial icing call forced a turnover down low behind Jones. After a centering feed to Landeskog that just missed, Barrie collected the puck in open ice and golfed the puck into the top left corner. This gave the Avalanche their first lead of the night with just 2 minutes heading into the second intermission.
A late slashing penalty on Marc-Edouard Vlasic put Team Teal in a hole heading into the second intermission. However the Sharks began the third killing off the penalty with exceptional shot-blocking from the defense and nimble stick-work from Jones.
San Jose piled on the ensuing pressure as the blueliners sent stretch-passes for excellent breakaway opportunities but in the end Grubauer stood tall fending off the Sharks chances off the rush.
Grubauer’s save led to a counter-attack by the Avalanche, and the hard work of Matt Calvert and Matt Nieto in the goal crease paid off. The former Shark poked the puck through Jones and Colorado extended their lead 3-1.
But the Sharks would not go down without a fight. Team Teal unleashed their two-headed dragon on the blueline in order to generate some offensive production.
Erik Karlsson narrowly kept the puck in the zone with his great reflexes and fed Burns a beautiful open-ice pass. Burns teed up a missile that ricocheted off a defenseman’s stick into the back of the net, cutting Avalanche’s lead in half.
With two minutes remaining, the San Jose Sharks skated with an extra attacker, but Nathan Mackinnon tacked on an empty-netter with his wheels to restore their two-goal cushion.
Veteran defenseman Ian Cole earned a penalty with 17 seconds remaining in regulation, and the Sharks would capitalize seconds later as Burns whistled home his second of the night off a Tomas Hertl rebound.
However the Avalanche held down the fort in the remaining seconds. Karlsson was able to unload a bomb from the slot, but the defense turned it away. It was a valiant effort by the two all world blueliners for Team Teal. But ultimately the San Jose Sharks late surge came up short, sending the series back to Denver tied 1 – 1.