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WCSF Game 4: Complacency costs SJ
Colorado shuts out the Sharks 3-0 to tie series
5/2/19 - By Mike Lee -

With a chance to put a stranglehold on their Western Conference Semi Final series with the Colorado Avalanche in Game 4 on Thursday night, the Sharks laid a proverbial egg. A lackluster effort, no organization on the offense and a pair of defensive miscues resulted in a 3-0 shutout loss to the host Avalanche. One of the few bright spots was goaltender Martin Jones performance. The Sharks goaltender kept the game within reach for the Sharks, but his teammates didn't make the effort required to win playoff hockey.

This one was simply a battle of wills, and the Avalanche had more of it. Down 2-1 in the series entering play, Colorado would have made things extremely difficult on themselves had they lost Game 4. Their motivation was undeniable. They used the home ice advantage to perfection, dominating the Sharks late.

Once the Avalanche scored, they seemed to elevate their game. The Sharks did the opposite. There was little to write home about, other than Jones performance. San Jose's goaltender made 25 saves, but was betrayed by his defense on the first two goals of the game.

Jones denied Alexander Kerfoot on the Avalanche best scoring chance of the first period with 4 minutes left in regulation. Colorado made a series of passes as three skaters converged on the Sharks net. Kerfoot finished the chance with a quick chance from the right side that Jones snuffed out.

The opening frame would end scoreless, with the Sharks holding a 12-10 edge in shots.

Timo Meier was called for hooking 23 seconds into the 2nd period, setting up the first power play for either team. San Jose survived the ensuing power play, then skated on their own man-advantage at 6:15 when Kerfoot was called for hooking himself.

The San Jose power play lasted all of 33 seconds after the Avalanche drew a third hooking penalty after they forced a breakaway chance that was denied when Kevin Labanc was sent off.

Colorado started playing heavy in the Sharks zone, which paid dividends at the 10:34 mark when Nathan MacKinnon swatted a puck off Jones from the left post. Cale Makar threw a puck to the front of the net, which hit Jones and deflected over the netminder's shoulder. Brent Burns tried to swat the puck clear as it floated over Jones, rather than tie up MacKinnon who had inside position. The Avalanche forward took his own swipe at the puck, jamming it home to break the ice.

The Sharks started to pick up the pace after the MacKinnon goal, but Phillip Grubauer denied San Jose late in the period. The Sharks did draw a power play with 20 seconds left in the period when Tyson Barrie was sent off for holding.

San Jose was too nonchalant to close out the period, looking for the perfect shot. When play resumed to start the 3rd period, the Sharks were so disjointed the puck rarely entered the Colorado zone.

Justin Braun reciprocated the power play chance for Colorado when he took a bad tripping penalty at 2:32. The Avalanche converted when Colin Wilson punched home a deflection from the right side. Defenseman Brent Burns had the puck as he was skating away from the Sharks net, but he decided to get cute and actually crossed himself up, and turned the puck over without any pressure. Mikko Rantanen swatted at the puck, deflecting it over to Wilson on the right post. Wilson buried it to push the Colorado lead to 2-0.

The Sharks cheated in their attempt to get back into the game, by throwing shot after unscreened shot from the blueline. The Avalanche simply dropped three skaters to the front of the net and blocked everything San Jose threw at them. It was a disheartening approach to a game that could have put a chokehold on Colorado.

Braun felt more comfortable in the penalty box, so he earned a second trip to the sin bin at 11:55 after he was beat on a play and resorted to butt-ending Wilson. Burns was beat on the ensuing power play and was called for a questionable hooking penalty to give the Avalanche a shot 5-on-3.

The Sharks killed both penalties, but the they lost the battle with the clock during that 4 minute span. Killing penalties when they were down two goals was just as bad as giving up goals.

San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer pulled Jones with just under 2 minutes to play, but even an additional skater wasn't going to solve the Sharks inability to mount any form of offense.

Erik Johnson padded the Avalanche stats with an empty-net goal with 1:09 left to cap the game's scoring.

Now the series returns to San Jose where the Sharks will have a chance to show everyone what they're made of.

Game Notes:

* Nathan MacKinnon extended his scoring streak to 8 consecutive games. It's no secret that as MacKinnon goes, so go the Avalanche, but the Sharks still couldn't contain him. Just containing him won't be good enough if San Jose wants to win this series.

* The game marked the 4th time in team history that the Sharks were shutout by the Avalanche in the playoffs. The last occurrence was in 2010, in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals.

* The egg, also marked the 25th time the Sharks have been shutout in the playoffs. It's the second occurrence this season. Vegas shut out San Jose in Game 4 of their Quarter Final series.

* The Sharks defense accounted for 10 of their 32 shots. Avalanche Phillip Grubauer was rarely challenged during the game, largely by the Sharks insistence on trying to score with long range shots. It was pretty clear that without someone like Joe Pavelski to create traffic in front of the net, that approach just doesn't work. There was rarely a Shark forward parked in front of Grubauer at any part of the game.

* Joakim Ryan continues to be the defenseman who gets to sit and watch from the bench for most of the game. Ryan only skated 11 shits for 7:10 of ice time. Ryan is a better skater than Justin Braun and Brendan Dillon, who were beat repeatedly by the Avalanche. Braun was forced to take a bad high sticking penalty in the 3rd period after he was beat by Colin Wilson.

* Joe Thornton appeared in his 170th NHL playoff game.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 0 0
COL 0 1 2 3
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, COL, MacKinnon 6 (Rantanen, Makar), 10:34.
3rd period - 2, COL, Wilson 4 (Rantanen, Landeskog), 3:11, (pp). 3, COL, Johnson 2 (Calvert, Nieto), 18:51, (en).
Penalties
1st period - None.
2nd period - Meier, SJ (hooking), 0:23; Kerfoot, COL (hooking); 6:15; Labanc, SJ (hooking), 6:48; Barrie, COL (interference), 19:40.
3rd period - Bruan, SJ (tripping), 2:32; Meier, SJ (slashing), 5:29; Landeskog, COL (slashing), 5:29; Braun, SJ (high sticking), 11:55; Burns, SJ (hooking), 13:38.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 27 25
SJ - empty net 1 0
COL - Grubauer 32 32
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 12 11 9 32
COL 10 12 6 28
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
COL 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Phillip Grubauer
Nathan MacKinnon
Mikko Rantanen
Attendance
Pepsi Center - 18,110
Officials
Referees: Pollock, St Laurent. Linesmen: Amell, Cherrey.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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