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WCSF Game 2: Avalanche bite back
Colorado ties series with 4-3 win
4/28/19 - By Mike Lee -

Playing to the whistle is something every coach stresses, at every level. Marc-Edouard Vlasic didn't do that in Game 2 of the Sharks Western Conference Semi Finals series with the Colorado Avalanche, and it cost the Sharks. A non-call on an apparent icing that wasn't turned out to be a turning point in the Sharks 4-3 loss to the Avalanche. Colorado knotted the series at 1-1 with the victory, and claimed the home ice advantage in the series.

For the second straight series, the Sharks allowed questionable officiating to dictate the outcome of Game 2. The whole point of no-touch icing is to prevent injuries that culminate from players flying into the boards. Linesmen Pierre Racicot can be seen with his hand in the air to signify icing, but his partner Trent Knorrr failed to hustle down the ice to make the call. Knorr was inexplicably behind the play, which put him out of position. Vlasic assumed the icing because he had positions on Mikko Rantanen.

The call wasn't made and Rantanen took control of the puck and fed Gabriel Landeskog at the front of the net for a point blank shot. Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made the save on Landeskog, but the puck kicked out to Tyson Barrie, who whipped a 4 foot shot that caught the upper left corner of the net.

Evander Kane and Brent Burns argued the icing, but the non-call stood and the Sharks played from behind the rest of the game.

Vlasic was salty after the game.

"It was icing," The Sharks defenseman chirped in the post game media scrum. I'm going to take the high road and expect an apology tomorrow." Vlasic was referring to the alleged apology that the NHL made to Vegas Knights GM George McPhee following Game 7.

San Jose grabbed their only lead 7:57 into the game, when Kane swept home a rebound past Avalanche goaltender Phillip Grubauer from the doorstep. Burns ripped a shot from the right point that caught Grubauer in the blocker, then the chest before the puck landed out in front for Kane to convert his 2nd goal of the playoffs.

The Sharks missed on plenty of opportunities in that opening period. A boarding penalty on Nikita Zadorov setup one of three power play chances in the game, but the Sharks spent the first minute trying to establish the zone. They swarmed Grubauer in the period, out-shooting Colorado 11-6, but couldn't build on their lead.

Like in Game 1, the 2nd period allowed the eventual winner to overcome an deficit and seize control of the game.

Colorado tied the game at 1-1 8:21 into the frame on a strong forecheck that kept the Sharks pinned in their own zone. Rookie Lukas Radil bit on a spin move by Barrie, who then fired a shot from the left point. Landeskog was parked in front and tipped the shot past Jones to square things up.

After the non-icing fiasco, the Avalanche built on their lead in the 3rd period when former Shark Matt Nieto was credited with his 3rd goal of the playoffs at 10:10. The Sharks turned the puck over at their own blueline, which allowed Barrie to put a shot on net. Jones made a pad save, then tried holding his left skate against the right post as Matt Calvert took three hacks at the puck.

It took that long for the Sharks defense to show up, but the puck slipped under Jones where Brendan Dillon tried to sweep it clear of the crease, but Nieto was there to tie up Dillon and get the puck across the goal line.

Burns made it a 1-goal game with 4:34 to play when he fired a shot past Grubauer from the right circle. The Sharks defenseman actually eliminated an Avalanche defener moments earlier with a shot that snapped Alexander Kerfoot's skate blade off his skate. Erik Karlsson moved the rebound back to Burns who ripped a shot that was deflected by an Avalanche defender past Grubauer.

San Jose was forced to pull Jones with 1:30 left in regulation, but the Sharks tried dumping the puck into the Colorado zone without chasing it. That allowed the Avalanche to move the puck up the ice where Nathan MacKinnon buried it on a breakaway. Burns leveled Calvert with a hip-check that floored the Colorado winger. Had Burns tried to get a stick in front of Calvert, it may have disrupted the pass to MacKinnon.

Referee Gord Dwyer called a late holding penalty on Ian Cole which setup a power play with 18 seconds left in regulation. The Sharks won the ensuing faceoff and moved the puck over to Burns on the left dot, where he ripped a shot past Grubauer, but it only left 10 seconds on the clock.

San Jose actually moved the ensuing facoff into the Avalanche zone, but they could not generate a shot as the clock expired.

Game Notes:

* Lots of questions regarding fatigue were brought up in the locker room after the game. Logan Couture alluded to fatigue, but Evander Kane wasn't having any of it. Kane referred to the opening period, which was all Sharks.

* The series now shifts to Denver, where the altitude will play a factor in the series. The Sharks beat the Avalanche in Colorado in their only match-up in the Mile High City back in early January.

* Lukas Radil was the only Shark skater who did not register a shot on goal. The Sharks rookie missed on a defensive assignment that led to Landeskog's tying goal in the 2nd period. Radil was limited to 18 shifts in the game.

* Micheal Haley made his return to the Sharks lineup after sustaining an ankle injury in the Vegas series. Dylan Gambrell moved upstairs to the press box after his penalty led to an Avalanche goal in Game 1.

* Melker Karlsson was injured in the 3rd period when he was checked into the glass on a hit from behind. The Sharks winger appeared to be favoring his left arm.


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1 2 3 T
COL 0 2 2 4
SJ 1 0 2 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Kane 2 (Burns, Hertl), 7:57.
2nd period - 2, COL, Landeskog 2 (Barrie, MacKinnon), 8:21. 3, COL, Barrie 1 (Landeskog, Rantanen), 16:31.
3rd period - 4, COL, Nieto 3 (Calvert, Barrie), 10:10. 5, SJ, Burns 3 (E. Karlsson, Sorensen), 15:26. 6, COL, MacKinnon 4 (Calvert, Grubauer), 18:58, (en). 7, SJ, Burns 4 (Hertl, Kane), 19:49, (pp).
1st period - Zadorov, COL (boarding), 15:05.
2nd period - Soderberg, COL (holding), 4:37; Vlasic, SJ (slashing), 19:16.
3rd period - Meier, SJ (tripping), 16:15; Cole, COL (holding), 19:42.
Shots Saves
COL - Grubauer 34 31
SJ - Jones 31 28
SJ - empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
COL 6 13 13 32
SJ 11 13 10 34
Power Play Conversion
COL 0 of 2
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Tyson Barrie
Gabriel Landeskog
Brent Burns
SAP Center - 17,562
Referees: Dwyer, Rooney. Linesmen: Knorr, Racicot.
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