Dec 23, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Jason Demers (5) celebrates with San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) after Demers scored during the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned: Avalanche - Sharks

Well that escalated quickly.

It looked for awhile there like the Avalanche were going to lose a game they deserved to lose. After all, they ended up getting outshot 45-33, including the second period that saw the Sharks outshoot them 21-5 and score a pair to take the 3-2 lead.

But those final two minutes. Holy shnikes, those final two minutes. Erik Johnson and Jamie McGinn (called it!) gave the Avalanche the improbable lead within twelve seconds of each other and then, even more improbably, Joe Pavelski tied it with :20 left. We all know what happened from there.

In the end, the Avalanche got a point they probably didn’t deserve and can’t be all that upset about losing that second point. Those last two minutes were flukey on both sides.

All that said, let’s get on with it and see what we learned from Monday night’s 5-4 shootout loss.

Rocky! Rocky!

Like the Italian Stallion, the Avalanche faced down a superior opponent, looked as though they might topple them before losing at the end. The Avalanche could have come out in the third, after being thoroughly dominated in the second, and just packed it in. It took them awhile, but they made the comeback complete just in time.

Their hot start makes it easy to forget, but this is a team that isn’t supposed to be competing with the best in the west. The Avalanche are still a very young team that’s thin defensively with a rookie coach. For them to be here, still fighting like this, is a huge positive.

It’s clear that the Avs are still a piece or two away from being a contender, but the resolve and fight they’ve shown this year will be a huge building block for the road ahead.

The Sharks Top Line Is Good

There is only so much you can do to beat the Sharks when the top line of Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski is clicking. The trio combined for two goals, five assists (including the game-tying goal from Pavelski). Thornton, one of the best playmakers in the game, picked up a trio of assists himself.

This battle station was fully armed and operational on the final goal in regulation, a slapper from Pavelski that gave Thornton his league-leading 35th assist. Thornton is firmly in the top ten in points, Pavelski is threatening to crack the top 20 and Burns is a converted defenseman with 19 points in 24 games.

They are very good at hockey and sometimes this happens.

Dec 23, 2013; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (not pictured) scored a goal during the third period as San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) is ready for the assist against Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) at SAP Center at San Jose. Sharks won 5-4 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

No Killer Instinct

When the Avalanche grabbed the lead, it seemed like that concentrated aggression they display throughout most games went away in favor of a totally conservative effort meant to protect the lead.

Why do teams do this? You’re at your most successful playing the style you’re most comfortable with. If that means being aggressive, continue to be aggressive to a degree, but maybe don’t pinch at the point or have the center play a little higher in the offensive zone. Something like that.

Instead, the Avalanche (and most teams at times) go into a shell in which they’re basically just sitting with their head between their knees and rocking back and forth, hoping everything works out. Continue to pressure, don’t give the opponent the opportunity to put pressure on and a few more games like this will go your way.

Next up: 12/27 @ Chicago

Ryan is the editor of Mile High Sticking as well as co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to talk Avs, Sabres, hockey in general, or to let him know what a yutz he is.

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Tags: 2013-14 Season Colorado Avalanche Jamie Mcginn Joe Pavelski Joe Thornton NHL San Jose Sharks

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