In a thrilling Friday night showdown, Marcus Sorensen, with twelve stitches freshly sewn into his upper lip, powered the Sharks to a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche with a two-goal effort.
Despite stretches of brilliance from Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Semyon Varlamov, the Sharks pulled out an exciting victory, with the entire team firing on all cylinders. Timo Meier and Joe Pavelski also scored for the Sharks, as they fended off a hungry Avalanche team desperate to stay in the playoff picture.
The Sharks will look to continue their solid play on Sunday, when the Chicago Blackhawks come to the SAP Center.
20:00: Puck drop! We’re underway in San Jose.
19:30: Joonas Donskoi drives down the wing and puts a good shot into the chest of Varlamov. Apparently the Sharks haven’t played against Varlamov in three years.
16:00: Sharks are pressuring in the offensive zone; Tomas Hertl dishes a nice pass to Tim Heed, who gets a good shot on Varlamov.
15:41: Welcome back Marcus Sorensen! Sorensen takes a feed from Joe Thornton and puts the Sharks up 1-0.
14:46: Nathan MacKinnon banging his stick and yelling back at the Avs bench. Not happy with his team’s effort thus far.
11:44: Although the Sharks seem to be winning the majority of their puck battles, the Avs have improved their time of possession and put a couple of good shots on Martin Jones, who made a nice save.
10:56: Brent Burns chases down a blocked pass that rocketed down the ice toward Jones. That could have been bad.
9:04: Radim Simek loses his stick in the neutral zone and Colorado gets two outstanding scoring chances from Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Calvert. Jones comes up huge with two great stops.
6:15: Mikko Rantanen draws a hooking penalty on Simek, as he barrels into the zone. Sharks heading to the penalty kill. Hard to stop a player as large as Rantanen when he’s flying into the zone like that.
4:21: HUGE save by Jones on Derick Brassard from right in front. We’re talking a foot away from the blue paint.
3:43: Nyquist and Sorensen with a little Swedish connection get very close to scoring shorthanded. Really solid penalty kill by the Sharks.
:58: The game is opening up a bit, with both teams generating some good shots as the period winds down.
END FIRST: Sharks 1, Avalanche 0
Period ends with the Sharks leading 1-0. The story of the night so far is the stellar play of Martin Jones. While he’s only made six saves so far, they’ve been huge ones. Offensively, the Sharks are buzzing.
20:00: We’re back!
19:35: MacKinnon sets up, stick handles, and dishes to a wide open Rantanen who fires a wicked one-timer. Nice save by Jones.
19:05: Rantanen knocks Kevin Labanc into the boards. Nothing unnecessary, but it looked like it didn’t feel great.
18:17: Nyquist hits the jets, breaks away and takes a nice wrist shot on Varlamov. That’s the speed we’ve been hearing about.
17:25: Timo Meier scores his 22nd goal of the season on a wrist shot from the top of the circle, and it’s 2-0 Sharks! Varlamov is going to want that one back.
16:25: Micheal Haley just punished Sheldon Dries with a thundering check into the boards. Ouch.
15:05: Nikita Zadorov cuts the lead to 2-1 with an explosive slap shot from the blueline. Landeskog set him up with a nice backhand pass.
13:25: Labanc having a great shift in the offensive zone, creating chances for teammates and firing a dangerous shot on net himself.
9:50: Justin Braun with a great defensive effort on MacKinnon to stop the zone entry. Thornton and Nyquist transition into a two on one, but Nyquist gets tied up as he tries to shoot.
9:12: Colorado’s Ian Cole hooks Joe Pavelski and the Sharks are heading to the power play.
8:54: Hertl imposes his will in front of the net and gets two good chances on the doorstep, but Varlamov comes up big with a couple of timely pad saves.
7:28: Matt Calvert gets a solid shorthanded opportunity, but is denied by Jones.
6:59: MacKinnon passes to Ian Cole as he steps out of the penalty box for a two-on-one opportunity; Cole attempts to send the puck back to MacKinnon, who’s streaking in alone, but puts it just out of reach. Sharks survive an A+ scoring chance against.
5:19: Varlamov scrambling, on his back, makes saves on Logan Couture and Donskoi, and covers before a fast approaching Labanc has the opportunity to try and push the loose puck in.
2:16: Couture denied from the right circle on a nice read by Varlamov.
:23.9: Sorensen strikes again! Hertl’s shot deflects off the post, lands on the red line and is promptly swept into the net by Marcus Sorensen for his second goal of the night! Sharks lead 3-1.
END SECOND: Sharks 3, Avalanche 1
After two periods of play, the Sharks lead 3-1. They’ve continued to get solid play all the way down the lineup. Sharks fans have to be excited with the play of Gustav Nyquist.
20:00: Third period is underway!
17:23: Patrik Nemeth fires the puck over the glass, and earns a trip to the penalty box. Sharks are on the power play.
16:38: The Avalanche look lost on the penalty kill. Sharks are moving the puck quickly, creatively, and at at will, resulting in various dangerous chances, but Varlamov continues to stone them.
13:45: Simek continues to lay the body with another big hit.
13:15: Meier with a beautiful chance on his backhand, stopped by Varlamov. This game could easily be 5-1 Sharks, if not for the incredible play of Colorado’s net minder.
10:28: Brenden Dillon slashes the hands of Nathan MacKinnon, and the Sharks will be short handed for two minutes. Dillon appeared to just be reaching in, but catching someone on the hands with a slash is getting called every time.
9:52: Mikko Rantanen drives a puck past Martin Jones, and converts on the power play. It’s 3-2, Sharks now.
8:35: Meier absolutely rockets into the zone, and Zadorov, laying out, trips him. Sharks headed to the man-advantage!
8:13: A Burns wrister clangs off the post and lands next to Hertl, who backhands it wide of an open net, with Varlamov down.
7:21: Hertl strips Zadorov in the neutral zone and gets it to Labanc, who finds a wide open Pavelski for a power play goal! 4-2 Sharks. Can’t comment enough on how gorgeous a play that was, largely thanks to Kevin Labanc.
6:33: Colorado’s Samuel Girard rips a shot through traffic and brings it back to a one-goal game; it’s 4-3 Sharks less than a minute after Pavelski scored.
5:36: Landeskog fires a shot off the post. The Avalanche are swarming.
2:56: Excellent puck movement by the Sharks in the offensive zone, as Labanc gets a grade A scoring chance on his backhand. Varlamov comes up big again.
1:33: Sharks get called for icing, and Varlamov is on the bench for the extra man.
:47.7: After a Colorado offside, the faceoff comes out to the neutral zone. Varlamov still on the bench.
:26: Burns loses his stick, and Carl Soderberg gets Colorado’s best chance since they sat Varlamov. Face-off incoming.
FINAL SCORE: Sharks 4, Avalanche 3
The San Jose Sharks will try to shake off their bad Boston loss — no, the other bad Boston loss, the second one — tonight when they host the Colorado Avalanche back home at SAP Center. The Sharks beat the Avalanche the last time these teams met, but only barely. It’s officially March now, so hopefully the Sharks will put the win-but-only-just habits behind them in the last full month of the season.
A Sharks win in regulation would put a stop to a six-game point streak for the Avalanche — and also gain the Sharks two points in the standings, where they’re seven behind the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division.
If Gustav Nyquist registers a goal or assist in his Sharks home debut, he will have 50 total points on the season, becoming the seventh player on the Sharks roster to reach the mark (Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier and Evander Kane already have the honor so far).
Both EKs are out for the Sharks tonight: Erik Karlsson’s lower-body injury has returned and Evander Kane is ailing somewhere between his upper body and lower body. For the Avalanche, Ian Cole is set to return to the second blueline pairing; of the Avs’ injuries, Matt Nieto is the most interesting because he’s a former Shark.
I want to point out that the Avs’ backup goalie, Philipp Grubauer, has an identical save percentage to the Sharks’ starter, Martin Jones: .896 on the season so far.
Injuries: Evander Kane (“Mid-body”), Erik Karlsson (groin)
Healthy scratches: Joakim Ryan, Lukas Radil
Avalanche (via Mile High Hockey):
Alexander Kerfoot — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog — Tyson Jost — Matt Calvert
Derick Brassard — Carl Soderberg — J.T. Compher
Sven Andrighetto — Sheldon Dries — Colin Wilson
Samuel Girard — Erik Johnson
Ryan Graves — Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth — Nikita Zadorov
Injuries: Mark Barberio (leg), Vladislav Kemenev (shoulder), Matt Nieto (leg)
Healthy Scratches: Gabriel Bourque, Ryan Greaves
Where to Watch
You can tune in at 7:30 p.m. Pacific on NBCS-California and on Altitude in the Colorado market. It is also available through NHL.tv, and the radio broadcast is, as always, on 98.5 KFOX and the Sharks App.