Final Score: San Jose Sharks – 2 Colorado Avalanche – 3
*THE COLORADO AVALANCHE ARE BACK IN THE PLAYOFFS!!!!!
*Semyon Varlamov was outstanding. He stopped 47 shots, including a couple of huge sequences on San Jose power plays. He didn’t really stand a chance on either goal as well.
*Varlamov now leads the NHL in wins with 37. He should be a Vezina Trophy Finalist. Maybe even a Hart Trophy Finalist because I don’t know too many players more valuable to their team than Varlamov has been to the Avs this year.
*It didn’t look like it was going to be the Avs day when Matt Duchene got injured on the first shift of the game, but Paul Stastny scored on a tough angle shot moments later to show what Avs fans have seen all season: when one guy does down, the team steps up.
*Duchene didn’t return to the game though, and, as of this report, there is no update on him. We can only hope that it’s nothing too serious. We know it’s a knee injury and obviously those can be very tricky. Duchene has been the Avs best forward all season and it would be a huge loss if he’s not able to go in the playoffs. I suspect that the Avs will be very careful with Duchene in these final weeks.
*With Duchene out, the returning John Mitchell stepped up and played on the top line with Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn. He finished with a goal and an assist. Mitchell isn’t Duchene, but he still has great hockey sense and can be just as crafty with the puck.
*Stastny, Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon had a real strong game, especially in the offensive zone. Landeskog struggled in the other two ends as he was often careless with the puck, but otherwise they were great in this game.
*The Sharks just got another shot on goal.
*Joe Pavelski is often labeled as an “Avs Killer” and I thought the same thing until I looked at the numbers. In 26 career games, Pavelski has 9 goals and 19 points. Not bad numbers, but I just expected to see higher numbers. He scored another goal against the Avs on Saturday, so I guess it’s more about the timing than the total.
*Cody McLeod scored a shorthand goal for the team. It was his 3rd goal in the last 5 games and his 50th career goal. He continues to prove why he’s one of the leaders on this team and why he’ll be very valuable in the playoffs.
*I was pretty surprised that there were no fights in this game given how the second meeting between these two teams went.
*I didn’t like Patrick Roy’s decision to play Nate Guenin over Cory Sarich and I was ready to blast the decision after Guenin took an early penalty that led to a Sharks PP goal. But then Guenin played really well. He had 4 blocked shots, 5 hits, and a number of rough plays.
*Marc Andre Cliche was moved back up to the third line almost immediately due to the Duchene injury and he looked a lot more comfortable than he has in previous games. Maybe he entered the game with a fourth line mentality and kept that same mentality even when he got moved up.
*The Sharks just got another shot on goal.
*Ryan O’Reilly took his first penalty of the season in this game. It wasn’t for tripping or hooking or any type of “man on man” hockey play though. O’Reilly broke his stick on a face-off and then, with the broken stick still in his hand, kicked the puck into the corner before dropping his stick. The Hockey Gods just didn’t want O’Reilly to go a full season with no penalty minutes.
*Even though the Sharks got nearly 50 shots on goal, I thought the Avs defense was good. A lot of those shots came due to the Sharks mentality of “put everything on net” and not actual scoring chances. Gabriel Landeskog said it best when he said, “the only people that care about shots on goal are fans and media.” He’s right. I look at scoring chances as the true gauge of how a defense is playing. The Sharks had chances, but Varly was there almost every time.
*Roy used his timeout after the Sharks scored their second goal of the game. The Avs still led 3-2, but Roy used the timeout because the refs called an icing on Andre Benoit, who the Avs thought got the red line. The icing put the face-off in the Avs zone and the Sharks scored immediately after the draw. If icing isn’t called, that goal doesn’t happen. The bench was very upset and Roy used his timeout to calm everyone down.
*That’s been one of the brilliant things about Roy this season. He doesn’t always use his timeout in the most conventional way (end of game situations and icing calls). The Sharks had some momentum after scoring, but the Avs were still up 3-2 and it was a closely played game. Roy thought his team could use a cool down session though, so he took the timeout and it all worked out. It’s not “state of the art coaching techniques” but it is a lot more than Joe Sacco ever did.
*This win put the Avs one point ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks with one game in hand and the tiebreaker.
*Now we all wait for word on Matt Duchene.
Next Game: Tuesday at Columbus Blue Jackets