Game Recap 12/15/2011: San Jose Sharks beat Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in comeback thriller

Introducing new guest writer here at Shark Circle, CayCie S.D. She will be writing some of the game recaps here, as well as discussing the Sharks between games. This is her first game recap. Enjoy!

Written by Kaycie S.D.

The San Jose Sharks, who have dropped seven of their last nine games, went into Thursday nights’ home game against the Colorado Avalanche with an opportunity to settle the score from Tuesday night’s 4-3 shootout loss in Colorado.

1st Period

The Sharks hoped to get a jump-start on the Avs early, and Brad Winchester met the challenge head on by getting into a fight with Avalanche pugilist Cody McCloud. The two dropped the gloves in what may have been carry over from Tuesday night’s game in Colorado.

Maybe the fight had something to do with it, or maybe it was just the awful turnover by Colorado’s goaltender, Semyon Varlamov, but only 2:30 into the 1st period, Ryane Clowe scored the first goal of the game when a shot by Logan Couture rebounded off Varlamov and was sent careening stright to Clowe, who shot the puck up high blocker-side to score.

However, a holding penalty by Patrick Marleau less than three minutes later at the 5:18 mark led to the game’s first power-play for the Avalanche. It only took their top-line center Paul Stasny 33 seconds to rip a shot passed Antti Niemi from the point, which tied the game. Defenseman Eric Johnson got the only assist.

At 9:32 of the period, Colorado defenseman Kyle Quincy gave the Sharks their first power-play after closing his hand on the puck, but the Sharks looked lackluster on the man advantage, and failed to score.

As the period went on, the Sharks did pick up their play and generate some good chances. However, with only 1:10 left in the period, Brent Burns set his team back with a minor penalty for high-sticking. San Jose’s penalty killing woes would continue as Colorado capitalized on their second of two power-plays. Ryan O’Reilly scored the goal with 11 seconds left in the period after sustained pressure in the Sharks defensive zone. Stephan Elliott and Milan Hejduk recorded the assists, and the second period came to a close with Colorado leading 2-1, although the shot-clock was dead-even at 11 shots for each team.

2nd Period

The Sharks came out strong in the second with Michal Handzus scoring the 2nd goal of the game for San Jose at 1:12, assisted by Martin Havlat and Jamie McGinn. Handzus had come off the Sharks bench on the short second-period change, and Havlat made an easy pass from behind the net to find his wide-open stick in the low slot. Handzus had nothing but net to shoot at and did not miss.

The tied score didn’t last long however, as Paul Stasny scored his 2nd goal of the night at 3:01 to put the Avalanche up 3-2. The Avalanche once again sustained pressure in the Sharks end. Stastny was able to find the puck in the slot after a cross-ice pass by Duchene deflected off Winnik, and he backhanded it home under Antti Niemi’s blocker.

The Sharks’ power-play received another opportunity to score at 4:20 when Winnik received a two-minute penalty for tripping, but the Sharks’ man-advantage could not seem to put any kind of scoring play together. Their power-play attempts generally looked about as flat as their penalty kill.

At 7:25 Clowe and Winnik dropped the gloves for an impressive 53-second fight, the second fight of the game, that involved several impressive uppercuts by Clpwe. However, Winnik would soon have his revenge where blows count even more, on the scoreboard, as he put one in the back of the Sharks net on a similar play to the one Handzus scored on earlier in the game. Winnik came off the bench and skated to the front of the net as Paul Stastny gained clean control of the puck behind the net. Stastny then made the simple short-side pass to the front of the net, which landed on the charging Winnik’s stick. Niemi was in good position considering the grade-A scoring chance Colorado had created, but Winnik found a way to shoot the puck all the way up into the far corner of the net from in close, across Niemi’s entire body, and Niemi had no chance.

The goal put the Avalanche up 4-2 to end the second period, effectively silencing the Shark Tank.

3rd Period

The 3rd period started out a bit slow, but the Sharks put up some good shots, and at 7:00 Brent Burns scored a huge goal on an assist from Martin Havlat to get the Sharks within one. Avalanche gift-giver Jan Hejda had attempted a pass up the ice, but he passed it onto Martin Havlat’s stick instead. Havlat quickly found Burns, who shot the puck into Varlamov’s pads, then found his own rebound to put it off the inside of Varlamov’s blocker and into the net.

The goal got the crowd back in it, chanting and yelling. There was a sense in the Shark Tank: the Sharks might have been down, but they weren’t out.

The comeback became more evident when Joe Pavelski scored the tying goal at 8:29. With Joe Pavelski battling in the crease, Joe Thornton found Jason Demers pinching in from the left circle. Demers shot the puck far side off Varlamov’s left pad, and the rebound kicked straight out into his crease, right to Joe Pavelski, who had great body position on inexperienced Avalanche defenseman David Van Derk Gulik. Van Derk Gulik left Pavelski almost entirely untouched, not even tying up his stick, which left Pavelski with an easy tap-in. Sharks 4, Avalanche 4.

But Sharks fans had to collectively hold their breath again at the 8:54 mark, as the San Jose penalty kill was called up again when Braun received a two-minute boarding penalty. However, the fans’ worries were appeased as the penalty-kill came up big for San Jose.

Worry soon turned to jubilation for the Sharks faithful as Logan Couture scored at 11:29 to put the Sharks ahead 5 to 4. Patrick Marleau received the puck in the high slot from Dan Boyle. He skated toward the top of the left circle and shot the puck towards the net, where Logan Couture deflected it deftly just a few feet from Varlamov. This put the Sharks in the lead with less than nine minutes left in the game.

While there was another penalty to Colorado at 14:54 for too many men on the ice, the Sharks’ leaders stepped up in the third like the team needed them to. Neimi came up big with a few last minute saves, and the Sharks got a much-needed victory to start their six game home stand.

Shot totals for the game:
San Jose- 34
Colorado- 27

Written by CayCie S.D.