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Demons far from exorcised
Sharks fall to eighth seeded Avalanche in series opener
4/14/10 - By Mike Lee -

If the Sharks were planning on shedding their playoff demons this year, they started with the one step backwards approach on Wednesday night. The top seeded Sharks once again tripped out of the gate against the eight seed, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Colorado Avalanche at HP Pavilion. The storyline is a like a bad dream that keeps haunting the Sharks.

Failure by the top line to show up and goaltending good enough to lose is the recurring theme that revisited the Tank on Wednesday night. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley were nullified by a trapping Avalanche defense that made the Sharks line irrelevant all night long.

Colorado took a page out of Anaheim ’s playbook for last season, slowing the Sharks down, then capitalizing on their chances. To add to the drama of Wednesday night’s defeat was the fact that Colorado scored the game winner with 50 seconds left in regulation.

San Jose’s offense sputtered all night, but managed to tie the game with 12 minutes left in regulation. The game looked like it was destined to go to overtime before winger Chris Stewart threw the puck toward the net from the right corner, deflecting it off defenseman Rob Blake’s skate and into the net.

“They didn’t do much different in the second period than they did in the first," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "I thought it was more our inability to execute very well. Our passing was a little bit off.” Whether it was a pass or a failure to convert and the result was it slowed our game down a lot. They did a really good job of clogging up the neutral zone.

Blake was trying to deal with T.J. Galiardi, who had parked himself in front the Sharks net while Stewart setup his shot. Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov had position on the shot, but after hit bounced off Blake’s skate there was nothing he could do to defend it. The bigger concern for San Jose ’s coaches is figuring out how Colorado was putting multiple shots on net deep in the Sharks zone with the game on the line.

Galiardi had just plowed into Nabokov after Colorado just missed on a scoring chance, but there were no defenders to either chase the puck or clear the Avalanche forwards away from the front of the net.

We knew this was going to be easy," said Nabokov. "We knew they're a bunch of young hungry guys and they were going to come at us hard. One lucky bounce and we found ourselves short."

San Jose’s opportunities were limited throughout the night, but the ones they had were squandered.

Stewart opened the game with a hooking penalty just 28 seconds in. San Jose generated six shots on the ensuing power play, but everything hit Colorado netminder Craig Anderson in the middle of the chest. Anderson gobbled up every shot with ease, not allowing any rebounds.

Colorado would outshoot the Sharks 11-6 over the remainder of the period. Colorado’s best chance to score in the opening period came on a 2-on-1 break that ended with a Darcy Tucker shot that sailed just wide of the left post with 6:30 left in the period.

Devin Setoguchi missed on a wide open net with a backhand chance three minutes later. The sharks forward was positioned in front of Colorado ’s net when a Joe Pavelski feed landed on Setoguchi’s stick. Anderson was caught out of position, but Setoguchi’s shot attempt was deflected by Adam Foote to keep the game scoreless.

The Avalanche would counter after Setoguchi’s miss, with Paul Stastny putting a shot on net that clanked off the right post.

Blake and Pavelski teamed up on a play eight minutes into the 2nd period which resulted in a deflection hitting off the crossbar.

A holding penalty to Blake at 11:46 of the period put the Avalanche on the man-advantage and the 21st ranked power play unit used all of 52 seconds to open the game’s scoring. Defenseman John-Michael Liles pumped a shot from the blueline that slipped past Nabokov. Colorado had two forwards crowding the front of the net, screening Nabokov from getting a good look at the shot.

"We weren't executing," said Marleau. "We weren't making passes on the tape. The time we did get a stick on it, we didn't get it all the way in. "

Rookie forward Matt Duchene went hard into the boards with 4 minutes left in the period and had to limp off the ice. With Duchene disabled and struggling to get back to the Colorado bench, the Sharks had an odd-man advantage, but they failed to take advantage.

They would finally get on the board at 7:59 of the 3rd period when Ryane Clowe sent a shot from the outside of the right circle to the net. Pavelski was parked in front of Anderson screening him from the low liner which slipped just inside the right post.

The goal finally got the home crowd into the game, which seemed to energize the Sharks, but they would fail to capitalize.

Even the lucky bounces failed to materialize in a go-ahead goal for San Jose . With 6 minutes left in regulation, the Sharks tried dumping the puck into the Colorado zone. The puck caught a seem in left wing boards glass, deflecting right toward the Avalanche net. Expecting the puck to wind around the end boards, Anderson stepped out of his net to try an intercept it. He was forced to dive across the crease to stop the wayward puck.

“It’s a big win and we are excited," said Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco. "I thought our guys played with a lot of passion and a lot of energy. It’s a big win to start the series but there is a lot of work left to do.”

Game Notes:

Forward Jed Ortmeyer was scratched for an undisclosed injury. Rookie defenseman Jason Demers saw time on the Sharks 4th line, replacing Ortmeyer.


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Scoring
1 2 3 T
COL 0 1 1 2
SJ 0 0 1 1
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, COL , Liles 1 (Duchene, Stastny), 12:38, (pp).
3rd period - 2, SJ, Clowe 1 (Setoguchi, Vlasic), 7:59. 3, COL , Stewart 1 (Stastny, Galiardi), 19:10.
Penalties
1st period - Stewart , COL (hooking), 0:28.
2nd period - Yip, COL (interference), 7:08; Marleau, SJ (holding), 7:08; Blake, SJ (hooking), 11:46; Setoguchi, SJ (hooking), 17:07.
3rd period - Galiardi , COL (holding), 2:49.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
COL - Anderson 26 25
SJ - Nabokov 30 28
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
COL 11 12 7 30
SJ 12 3 11 26
Power Play Conversion
COL 1 of 2
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Craig Anderson
Ryane Clowe
Scott Hannan
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Peel, O'Rourke. Linesmen: Cvik, Murray.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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