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WCSF Game 1: No hangover for SJ
Sharks jump on Colorado with big 2nd period to take series lead
4/26/19 - By Mike Lee -

The emotion was still fresh from the Sharks dramatic Game 7 victory over Vegas 72 hours earlier, but the Sharks had to get right back at it on Friday night as they kicked off their Western Conference Semi Final series with the Colorado Avalanche. San Jose overcame a 2-1 deficit with a 2nd period outburst that pushed toward an eventual 5-2 victory. Brent Burns led San Jose with a goal and 3 assists, and Martin Jones made 26 saves to stake the Sharks to the 1-0 series lead.

Even the crowd seemed fatigued from the quick turnaround from series to series. The energy was electric when the Sharks scored, but it took some work.

San Jose had to get past their Quarter Finals hangover, which lasted a period and change. They allowed Colorado to score the vaunted first goal with a tally that came within the first 5 minutes of the game. The bad habit of surrendering the early goal reared its ugly head in this one at the 3 minute mark when Gabriel Bourque swept a shot past Jones from just outside the left post. Justin Braun tried to wave at the puck after it kicked off Jones, but he missed, allowing Bourque to follow up.

Jones kept the score manageable when he made a fantastic toe save on Carl Soderberg at 5:49. Soderberg appeared to have Jones beat as he tried jamming the puck from the left post, but the Sharks netminder got his right skate back to pinch off the left post.

San Jose tied the game at 14:44, when Gus Nyquist gathered a rebound in front of the net as he skated from the right corner, before lifting a shot past Phillip Grubauer from the left side. Brent Burns side stepped Alexander Kerfoot off a faceoff win, before firing a shot from the top of the right circle.

The Avalanche appeared to retake the lead with 3:35 left in the period, when Mikko Ratanen scored, but a review of the play showed that the Avalanche right winger kicked the puck across the goal line.

The disallowed goal helped the Sharks survive a 13-9 shot differential in the period and an Avalanche team that cam out flying.

Sharks rookie centerman Dylan Gambrell made his first career playoff start, but it was a short lived experience after he took a bad tripping penalty 2:46 into the 2nd period. Colorado converted on the ensuing power play when Colin Wilson redirected a Rantanen feed from the right point past Jones for the 2-1 lead. Gambrell didn't see the ice the rest of the game after his penalty.

The turning point of the game came on another Sharks penalty. Brendan Dillon was sent off with a cross checking double minor a minute after Wilson scored. Dillon laid out J.T. Compher, drawing blood after opening up a cut the bridge of the Avalanche winger's nose.

Another Avalanche goal would have take the wind out of the Sharks sails, but they killed off all 4 minutes to energize the sellout crowd.

The ice tilted in San Jose's favor a minute after the Sharks killed off the big penalty, when Marcus Sorensen blocked an Erik Johnson pass at the Sharks blueline. Sorensen gathered the puck and raced up the left wing with Joe Thornton on his right. Drawing Grubauer to the left post, Sorensen sent a pass to Thornton. The big Sharks centerman collected the Sorensen feed, then swept a shot that beat Grubauer through the five hole.

Kevin Labanc put the Sharks in front with just under 4 minutes left in the period when he undressed Rantanen with a nut-meg as he skated laterally just inside the blueline. Labanc then turned right and headed toward the net before uncorking a shot from between the circles, beating Grubauer over the left shoulder.

It was a continuation of Labanc's big performance last Tuesday, when he recorded four points in the game. Labanc's teammate Brent Burns had a 4-point night in this one, which was the first time in Sharks history that a defenseman recorded that many points in a playoff game.

The Sharks defenseman scored his 2nd goal of the playoffs with a minute left in the 2nd period to put the Sharks up 4-2. Burns threw a puck toward the net from the right wing boards, which would have sailed safely wide of the Colorado goal, but the puck hit defenseman Cale Makar and redirected past Grubauer to pad the Sharks lead. It was simply a favorable bounce that ended the evening for Colorado.

With that 2-goal lead, the Sharks were content to kill clock in the 3rd period. They were rewarded with long stretches that saw no stoppages, winding the clock.

That was aided by a sliding block by Burns at 11:41 of the frame as the Avalanche tried to attack Jones. Burns and Erik Karlsson combined to block 11 Colorado shots.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar was forced to pull Grubauer with 3 minutes left in the contest in order to try and muster some offense. The Sharks capitalized on the absence of a net guardian when Timo Meier buried a shot from the front of the scorer's table to cap the scoring.

Matt Calvert and Dillon exchanged pleasantries in the form of offsetting slashing penalties in the waning seconds of the contest. Calvert caught Dillon in the back of the calf as the Sharks defenseman was skating toward his own bench.

It was chippy ending to an otherwise clean game.

Game Notes:

* Former Sharks Douglas Murray and Devin Setoguchi continued the Sharks playoff tradition of opening the locker room door, but the two put their own spin on things when they shed their jerseys to reveal a Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski jersey. Thornton is in the twilight of his NHL career, and Pavelski is on the mend after his scary head injury that he sustained in Game 7 against Vegas.

* Joe Thornton recorded his 100th career playoff assist. He sits 24th in the stat, behind Joe Sakic, who recorded 104 playoff assists during his career.

* In his last 4 games, Martin Jones has won all 4 games, powered by a 1.76 goals against average and a .943 save percentage.

* Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic both recoded a +4 plus/minus game. Joe Thornton and Marcus Sorensen were on the ice for all three 2nd period goals for San Jose. Alexander Kerfoot was a -4 for Colorado.

* Matt Calvert led all skaters with 8 hits in the game. Colorado out-hit San Jose 28-26. The Sharks seemed to play the body more in the game, especially in the neutral zone. That kept the Avalanche from using their team speed to generate enough offense to offset the Sharks 5 goals.

* Dylan Gambrell's playoff debut is probably one he'll want to forget. The rookie only skated 8 shifts in the game, took a penalty that resulted in an Avalanche goal and was a -1. He recorded 1 shot on goal and added a giveaway.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
COL 1 1 0 2
SJ 1 3 1 5
1st period - 1, COL, Bourque 1 (Makar, Jost), 2:10. 2, SJ, Nyquist 1 (Burns, Couture), 14:44.
2nd period - 3, COL, Wilson 3 (Rantanen, MacKinnon), 3:56, (pp). 4, SJ, Thornton 2 (Sorensen), 10:05. 5, SJ, Labanc 3 (Burns), 16:02. 6, SJ, Burns 2 (Sorensen, Thornton), 19:00.
3rd period - 7, SJ, Meier 2 (Burns), 19:31, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Bench, COL (too many men), 3:00.
2nd period - Gambrell, SJ (tripping), 2:46; Dillon, SJ (high sticking - double minor), 4:56.
3rd period - Calvert, COL (slashing), 19:49; Dillon, SJ (slashing), 19:49.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
COL - Grubauer 26 22
COL - empty net 1 0
SJ - Jones 28 26
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
COL 13 11 4 28
SJ 9 13 4 27
Power Play Conversion
COL 1 of 3
SJ 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Martin Jones
Brent Burns
Attendance
SAP Center - 17,562
Officials
Referees: Kozari, Sutherland. Linesmen: Knorr, Racicot.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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