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Sharks back atop Pacific Division
SJ rolls Colorado with 5-1 win
3/26/12 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks finally man-handled an opponent, dispatching the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 on home ice on Monday night. In doing so, they also reclaimed the Pacific Division lead, vaulting past the Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes. It was also the first time the Sharks put a 5 spot on the scoreboard since beating the Washington Capitals back on February 13th. The win was also their third in a row, the first time they've strung together that many wins since the first week in January.

With 6 games left in the season, the Sharks now control their own destiny. The regular season end in 11 days, with all 6 games coming against Pacific Division foes.

San Jose took a page out of the Coyotes book by blocking 16 shots by the Avalanche in the opening period. Colorado outshot the Sharks 11-10 in the period, but San Jose held the advantage in tempo an offensive chances. Neither team would score, but the period was a taste of things to come.

Joe Pavelski finally broke the ice with his 28th goal of the season 3:50 into the 2nd period. Justin Braun fired a shot that Semyon Varlamov blocked, but the juicy rebound bounced right to Pavelski in the slot. Defenseman Jan Hejda helped San Jose out on the play by falling into Varlamov, obstructing the netminder from getting over to his left to defend Pavelski's ankle high shot.

Dan Boyle earned a secondary assist on Pavelski's goal, giving him 500 career points.

San Jose sensed blood in the water, because they swarmed Varlamov minutes later. Andrew Desjardins finally took a bite, scoring his 4th goal of the season with a shot from the right side. Tommy Wingels and Boyle helped cycle the puck in the right corner, before Desjardins whipped a low shot that beat Varlamov from the right dot.

Shane O'Brien cut the Sharks lead in half with a goal less than two minutes later. Colorado worked a 3-on-2 rush that ended with Ryan O'Reilly making a pass through the slot to O'Brien on the right post. O'Brien snapped O'Reilly's pass for only his 3rd goal of the season.

Niemi made a huge save on the next Avalanche possession after Paul Stastny slipped past the Sharks defense and took a feed for a quick breakaway.

San Jose got the goal back with 4:16 left in the period on Torrey Mitchell's 9th goal of the season. Mitchell was the benefactor of a Michal Handzus wraparound attempt that slipped off the Sharks forwards stick, to the slot. Mitchell was crashing the net, when the puck landed I his lap for the quick deposit.

Avalanche winger David Jones just missed cutting right back into the Sharks lead when he clanked a shot off the right post moments after Mitchell's goal.

Joe Thornton followed that up with a post shot of his own, missing on a wide open net after Varlamov came out if his net to cut off the angle on Thornton.

O'Brien leveled Tommy Wingels with a cross check to the head with 39 seconds left in the period. The Avalanche would make it out of the period, but not the opening minute of the 3rd period. Pavelski made it 4-1 just 35 seconds into the period. Pavelski dug the puck out of the right corner than crashed the net, before putting his own rebound past Varlamov. It was his 300th career point.

Desjardins missed on a chance for a two-goal night when his wide-open look on Varlamov hit the right post with 5 minutes to play.

Colorado made an unusual move with 4:15 to play, pulling their netminder. Ryane Clowe made it 5-1 with a shot from just outside the blueline into the empty net at

Colorado's frustration boiled over at the final horn when Daniel Landeskog tried to take it out on Wingels.

Game Notes:

Logan Couture was injured in the middle of the 3rd period and did not return to the game. Boyle became only the fourth undrafted defenseman in league history to reach 500 points. The others are Borje Salming (787), Steve Duchesne (752), and Brian Rafalski (515).


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1 2 3 T
COL 0 1 0 1
SJ 0 3 2 5
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, SJ, Pavelski 28 (Bruan, Boyle), 3:50. 2, SJ, Desjardins 4 (Wingels, Boyle), 9:19. 3, COL, O'Brien 3 (O'Reilly, Landeskog), 11:47. 4, SJ, Mitchell 9 (Handzus, Moore), 15:44.
3rd period - 5, SJ, Pavelski 29 (Couture, Thornton), 0:35, (pp). 6, SJ, Clowe 14 (Havlat), 16:23, (en).
1st period - O'Brien, COL (roughing), 9:25; O'Byrne, COL (slashing), 12:49; Vlasic, SJ (holding), 18:33.
2nd period - O'Brien, COL (high sticking), 19:21.
3rd period - Pavelski, SJ (tripping), 2:52; McLeod, COL (hooking), 5:40.
Shots Saves
COL - Varlamov 35 31
COL - empty net 1 0
SJ - Niemi 32 31
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
COL 11 12 9 32
SJ 10 15 11 36
Power Play Conversion
COL 0 of 2
SJ 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Pavelski
Andrew Desjardins
Dan Boyle
Referees: O'Halloran, StLaurent. Linesmen: Cvik, Wheler.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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