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Sharks hold serve in 3rd period
SJ subdues desperate Avalanche late for 4-2 win
4/5/18 - By Mike Lee -

A desperate Colorado Avalanche hockey team made its way to SAP Center on Thursday night in an attempt to gain on the St Louis Blues for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Sharks rained on the Avalanche's party by scoring three goals in the 3rd period to take a 4-2 decision. San Jose was motivated by the fact that they will earn home ice in the first round of the playoffs if they can hold off the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

The idle Ducks sat a single point behind San Jose in the standing entering play on Thursday night, with Los Angeles two points back. With the win and a Kings win in overtime against the Minnesota Wild, the Sharks maintain their two point lead over Los Angeles and extend their lead over Anaheim to three points. The Ducks have a game in hand, and can still pass the Sharks if they win out the regular season and the Sharks drop their game on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

San Jose simply needs a point on Saturday night to hold their second spot in the division. That or any losses by either the Kings and Ducks will lock up home ice in that key first round match-up, which will come against one of their Southern California rivals.

With all the standings implications, the Sharks focused on what mattered most, which was to take care of business against the Avalanche. The Sharks commanded the opening period, and carried a lead into the fist intermission.

The Sharks grabbed a 1-0 lead 2:58 into the game when Justin Braun fired a shot from the right point that deflected off an Avalanche player up high. The deflected puck changed direction enough to fool Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The goal was Braun's 5th of the season.

Motivation was a little harder to recognize in the middle period, even though the Sharks out-shot Colorado 13-9 in the period. Neither team would score, which left the 17,497 with an uneasy feeling entering the 3rd period after the Sharks big collapse against Dallas 48 hours earlier.

A Joe Pavelski high-sticking penalty setup Mikko Rantanen's 29th goal of the season to draw the Avalanche even with San Jose. Nathan MacKinnon skated the puck toward the goal on the left side before ripping a shot that deflected off of Martin Jones, but right to Rantanen on the right side. The Avalanche forward collected the rebound and whipped a shot into the Sharks net as Jones tried diving to the left to stop the shot.

Blake Comeau took his second penalty of the game 45 seconds after Rantanen's goal, to put San Jose on the power play for the second time. Logan Couture answered 32 seconds into the man advantage with a shot from the left side. The Sharks had worked to puck to the right dot when Kevin Labanc saw Couture sitting on the off wing. Labanc sent a saucer pass through traffic to his linemate for a shot that Bernier just missed covering.

Joonas Donskoi made it a 3-1 game after he bull dogged the puck around Bernier after Dylan Demelo sent the puck to the front of the net at 10:14 of the period. Donskoi had his back to the net, and an Avalanche defender on his left hip. The Sharks forward fished the puck out of Bernier's pads then whipped his stick 270 degrees, sweeping the puck around the Avalanche goaltender for his 14th goal of the season.

Colorado cut the Sharks to a single goal with just under 7 minutes to play when Comeau tipped a David Warsofsky shot past Jones. Comeau fought off Brendan Dillon at the top of the crease and stuck his stick blade out knee high as Warsofsky's shot was headed toward the left post. The deflection altered the trajectory of the puck just enough to elude Jones for Comeau's 13th goal of the season.

Tomas Hertl added an empty netter with two seconds left in regulation after Sharks captain Joe Pavelski blocked a Colorado shot with a diving block that kicked the puck out to the neutral zone. Hertl was the only skater in the vicinity as he walked the deflection into the Colorado goal.

Game Notes:

* Rookie Dylan Gambrell played his second consecutive game and didn't embarrass himself. The centerman skated 12 shifts and was a -1 in 9:53 of ice time.

* Evander Kane missed his second consecutive game after sustaining an injury on saturday against the Vegas Golden Knights. The Sharks did not reveal what Kane's njury is, but the forward declared that he would be ready for the start of the playoffs when they start next week.

* Jannik Hansen made his way back into the lineup in order to allow Melker Karlsson a rest day as he deals with the injuries that sidelined him earlier this season.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
COL 0 0 2 2
SJ 1 0 3 4
1st period - 1, SJ, Bruna 5 (Couture, Boedker), 2:58.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - 2, COL, Rantanen 29 (MacKinnon, Barrie), 4:43, (pp). 3, SJ, Couture 34 (Labanc, Pavelski), 6:00, (pp). 4, SJ , Donskoi 14 (Demelo, Dillon), 10:14. 5, COL, Comeau 13 (Warsofsky, Nieto), 13:06. 6, SJ, Hertl 22 (unassisted), 19:58, (en).
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Comeau, COL (tripping), 8:59.
3rd period - Pavelski, SJ (high sticking), 3:50; Comeau, COL (high sticking), 5:28.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
COL - Bernier 35 32
COL - empty net 1 0
SJ - Jones 25 23
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
COL 7 9 9 25
SJ 11 13 12 36
Power Play Conversion
COL 1 of 1
SJ 1 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Justin Braun
Logan Couture
Joonas Donskoi
Attendance
SAP Center - 17,497
Officials
Referees: Hebert, Lee. Linesmen: Gawryletz, Sericolo.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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