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San Jose KO'd in Colorado
Avalanche run roughshod on outgunned Sharks
1/26/21 - By Mike Lee -

If you saw how Connor Macgregor was treated in the 2nd round of his fight last weekend, then you'll have a pretty good idea of what the Sharks felt like as they stopped in Denver for their 2-game series with the Colorado Avalanche. The Sharks landed an uppercut that woke up their opponent, then it was lights out. The Avalanche threw a haymaker and before the Sharks realized they were staring up at the Ball Arena ceiling, it was 7-3.

It was one of those games that was over before the game even reached the first intermission.

The Sharks opened the scoring when Ryan Donato scored his 3rd goal of the season on a second chance opportunity at 10:39 of the opening period. The Sharks forward tried punching the puck past Phillip Grubauer outside the right post. The puck deflected off the Avalanche goaltender, rebounding right back to Donato for the 1-0 lead.

The wheels wouldn't just fall off the bus for San Jose, they were punctured, exploded and set on fire.

Colorado landed the equivalent of a scoring haymaker to the Sharks exposed chin. Former Shark Joonas Donskoi started the bloodbath with his 3rd goal of the season at 16:15. Erik Johnson threw the puck on net from the high slot, but Donskoi got a stick blade on the shot to deflect it past Martin Jones to tie things up.

Brandon Saad made it 2-1 Avalanche 46 seconds later by depositing a Kyle Makar feed from the doorstep. Makar drew a pair of Sharks defenders to the right side as he attacked the net from the right wing. Everyone forgot about Saad who sat at the top of the crease, so it was automatic when he took a pass undefended and put a backhand chance past Jones for his 2nd goal of the season.

Nikolai Knyzhov got caught flat-footed as Tyson Jost raced past him on the way to the Sharks net, and was forced to hook the Avalanche forward. Colorado used a minute on the power play to push their lead to 3-1. The power play has been a strength for Colorado this season, and they showed why when Mikko Rantanen deposited his 6th goal of the season with 38 seconds left in the period.

If the Sharks had any ideas of regrouping at the first intermission then clawing their way back into this game, that was promptly dispatched early. Saad helped the Sharks cause by taking a slashing penalty 17 seconds into the period, but then a rookie gaff ended up in the Sharks net. John Leonard was carrying the puck out of his own zone when he slipped, coughing it up to Valeri Nichushkin. The Avalanche winger raced in on net and put the puck past Jones for the short-handed back breaker.

Samuel Girard sent Jones packing when he rifled a shot from the high slot that found a seam through a slew of skaters in front. Skating on a delayed penalty, the Avalanche backed the Sharks defense up then went sniping, with two Colorado skaters parked in front of Jones.

Devin Dubnyk didn't fare any better. Jones replacement surrendered a pair of goals to close out the second frame. Noah Gregor converted his 2nd goal of the season at 7:44, but it was simply a buffer between more Colorado scoring. The young Sharks forward slip past the Avalanche defense before taking a Dylan Gambrell feed and slicing in and slipping a shot past Grubauer.

Devon Toews scored a gimmie at 13:30 after Dubnyk lost his stick and was caught out of the net. The Sharks goaltender argued that Rantanen interfered with him, but there was no evidence of any obstruction, so Toews scored one of the easiest goals of his career.

Saad capped the scoring for the period with his 2nd of the night at 15:01.

Game Notes:

* Evander Kane took a pair of penalties to run his league leading tally to 9 minors on the season. Kane was clearly frustrated in the 3rd period, which resulted in two trips to the penalty box.

* Devyn Dubnyk's final line wasn't that bad considering the gut punch the Sharks took . Martin Jones replacement finished the game with 28 saves on 30 shots.

* The Sharks big money players were absent from the score sheet, which is a bad sign for San Jose. They rolled over early, which prevented any semblance of a comeback opportunity. Timo Meier was -3 even though he recorded an assist on Noah Gregor's goal.

* Logan Couture won 9 of 10 faceoffs, which may be the only bright spot on the night for San Jose.

* The Sharks out-hit the Avalanche 14-12, but it still didn't feel as if the Sharks played a physical game. They spent most of the night chasing guys, which made it difficult to lay the body.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 1 3
COL 3 4 0 7
1st period - 1, SJ, Donato 3 (Labanc, Couture), 10:39. 2, COL, Donskoi 3 (Johnson, Nichushkin), 16:15. 3, COL, Saad 2 (Makar, Burakovsky), 17:01. 4, COL, Rantanen 6 (MacKinnon, Makar), 19:21, (pp).
2nd period - 5, COL, Nichushskin 1 (unassisted), 1:32, (sh). 6, COL, Girard 1 (Jost, Sherwood), 5:48. 7, SJ, Gregor 2 (Gambrell, Karlsson), 7:44. 8, COL, Toews 3 (Landeskog), 13:30. 9, COL, Saad 3 (Burakovsky, Kadir), 15:01.
3rd period - 10, SJ, Couture 3 (Donato, Labanc), 12:43.
1st period - Knyzhov, SJ (hooking), 18:26.
2nd period - Saad, COL (slashing), 0:17; Nieto, SJ (hooking), 8:55; Leonard, SJ (unsportsmanlike conduct), 18:48.
3rd period - Kane, SJ (tripping), 1:33; Kane, SJ (high sticking), 6:15; Johnson, COL (high sticking), 8:28; Graves, COL (hooking), 13:44; Graves, COL (hooking), 18:22; Graves, COL (misconduct), 18:22; Compher, COL (cross checking), 19:45.
Shots Saves
SJ - Jones 19 14
SJ - Dubnyk 23 21
COL - Grubauer 30 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 9 6 15 30
COL 16 13 13 42
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 5
COL 1 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Ball Arena - attendance unavailable
Referees: Brenk, Hebert. Linesmen: Gawryletz, Toomey.

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