Who didn’t hit a milestone in teal tonight?
Peter DeBoer earned his 400th career win behind the bench, Gustav Nyquist scored a goal and tallied an assist in his 500th game, Evander Kane notched his 30th goal of the season, Brent Burns recorded his 82nd and 83rd points of the season (making him officially a more than point-per-game player this season), Brenden Dillon registered his 100th career point, and Micheal Haley managed to score a goal (into an empty net)!
The Sharks locked down second place in the Western Conference, securing home ice in any Western Conference playoff series not against Calgary, and ended the year on a positive note, winning back-to-back games. With Timo Meier listed as day-to-day and Erik Karlsson not skipping a beat in his return from injury, the Sharks have plenty of reason to be optimistic.
Sure, it helped playing an Avalanche club resting their starting goalie and missing one if its’ biggest stars in Mikko Rantanen, but San Jose looked solid in every facet of the game tonight and appear to be gelling before their playoff showdown with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Martin Jones, a major factor in the Sharks’ ability to succeed in the postseason, was great for San Jose and came up huge in a few key moments. Gustav Nyquist looked incredibly comfortable in the Sharks’ system and could easily have had another goal. Tomas Hertl continued his production and showcased his stellar puck protecting and skating abilities. Brent Burns continued his remarkable season, scoring his 16th goal of the year via his incredible release from the blueline, and Evander Kane had himself a game, playing the way a power forward needs to in the playoffs.
In other words, the Sharks were rolling. Fitting that it would be on fan appreciation night. Thanks, Sharks.
20:00: We’re underway! So, so good to see Erik Karlsson back on the ice.
17:04: Tyson Jost gives Colorado the early lead, scoring his third goal in three games against the Sharks this year.
15:30: The line of Evander Kane, Tomas Hertl and Gustav Nyquist (playing in his 500th game) is buzzing early; that group is generating multiple quality scoring chances.
14:24: Rough non-call: Semyon Varlamov holds the stick of Logan Couture, preventing him from getting in on what appeared to be a promising rebound.
12:44: Former Shark (and Long Beach native) Matt Nieto gets a great scoring look on Martin Jones, but is denied.
12:39: Immediately after the face-off, Brent Burns fires a quick wrister from the blueline, and ties the game at 1-1 with his 16th goal of the season!
8:45: Evander Kane scores his 30th goal of the season and the Sharks take a 2-1 lead! Assist coming from Gustav Nyquist in his 500th career game. Kane was parked in front of the net, and fought off Carl Soderberg to get the puck past Varlamov. Randy Hahn aptly adds: “That’s how you score goals in the playoffs!”
2:11: Samuel Girard and Sven Andrighetto get good chances on Jones, but he stops both. A lot of play has been in the neutral zone thus far.
END FIRST: Sharks 1, Avalanche 1
Note: With his assist on Kane’s first period goal, Brenden Dillon tallied his 100th career point!
20:00: We’re back underway!
18:29: Nathan Mackinnon breaks through the defense, dekes, and puts one past Jones for his 41st goal (and 99th point) of the season. He’s a special player and he just reminded us of why. 2-2.
15:14: Joe Pavelski hits a breaking Joonas Donskoi with a nice feed, but he can’t convert on Varlamov. Donskoi has been making the most of his insertion into the lineup, he has at least two quality scoring chances tonight.
13:43: Kevin Labanc scores, and it’s 3-2 Sharks!
9:21: Tomas Hertl protects the puck beautifully in the offensive zone; he skates gracefully, using his size to keep the pressuring Avalanche player (Girard) at bay, and the Sharks cycle effectively in the offensive zone. Nothing comes of it, but the Sharks are generating offense well this shift, with Hertl visibly leading the way.
8:10: Brenden Dillon, in desperation, dives to poke the puck away from Mackinnon, preventing a breakaway. In doing so, he managed to not take a penalty; excellent play by Dillon.
7:32: Tyson Barrie takes a hooking penalty and the Sharks head to the power play.
3:55: Burns flies down the left wing, expertly maneuvers around Barrie, and gets a gorgeous scoring chance, which is promptly denied by Varlamov. Marcus Sorensen follows up, but can’t convert on the rebound.
2:25: Kane dekes, delays, and feathers a beautiful pass to Joakim Ryan, who drove the front of the net but can’t convert.
2:03: Donskoi, continuing his solid offensive night, gets close again, but is denied by the outside of the goal post.
END SECOND: Sharks 3, Avalanche 2
20:00: Third period starts now. Let’s hope the Sharks pitch a shutout on defense and secure the two points.
18:33: The Avalanche generate a few nice chances, culminating in a nice save by Jones on Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog.
18:20: Carl Soderberg is going to the penalty box for interference; he set a pick a little too aggressively.
16:25: Nyquist displays great patience in the slot, gets open, and fires a nice wrist shot that ends up saved by Varlamov.
15:50: Despite not converting on the power play, the Sharks looked fresh. Creative, aggressive passing and a great chance by Nyquist.
14:40: Breaking out on a 2-on-1, Labanc takes a beautiful feed from Joe Thornton and fires just over the top corner.
14:22: Nyquist takes a loose puck and sends it into the top corner of the net, over the shoulder of Varlamov, and the Sharks extend their lead! 4-2. Kane set it up with an excellent forecheck, getting in quickly and creating the turnover. What a night for Nyquist in his 500th NHL game!
13:43: Justin Braun is forced to take a stick infraction by the speed of Nathan Mackinnon; Sharks will be shorthanded for two minutes.
11:45: Tyson Jost gets a dangerous chance for Colorado, but Jones comes up with the save.
10:45: The feeling that Nyquist wants another goal is palpable; he’s picking corners and firing darts every time he gets in the offensive zone.
9:05: Colorado fails to convert on an open net, as Jones sprawls out to make a save, but with the puck left loose in the crease, the refs seemingly swallow their whistles as a massive dog pile on Jones ensues. The Avalanche desperately try to chip the puck in, and Donskoi actually ends up in the net behind Jones, taking sticks to the body, as the Sharks somehow manage to keep it 4-2.
7:41: Erik Karlsson gets caught hooking Alexander Kerfoot, and the Sharks are on the penalty kill once again. I’ll call Kerfoot’s slight holding of Karlsson’s stick, once he felt it on his body, “gamesmanship.”
5:57: Jones makes a brilliant glove save on Derick Brassard. Brassard was alone, in close, on the right side of the net, and took his time picking the corner on Jones.
3:27: Martin Jones comes up huge again, stopping a Landeskog shot from inside the blue paint! He’s made a few absolutely stellar saves tonight. Varlamov heading to the bench.
3:01: Pavelski tucks the puck into the empty net for his 39th goal of the season! 5-2, Sharks.
3:00: The Avalanche challenge and overturn Pavelski’s goal; Donskoi was offside by a hair.
2:56: Varlamov on the bench again, extra attacker out for Colorado.
1:19: Jones with another nice save as the Avalanche try to jam the puck in. Colorado’s coach, Jared Bednar, takes his timeout.
:43: Melker Karlsson sends Micheal Haley on a breakaway, and he seals the deal with an empty net goal! All smiles from the Sharks bench; Joe Thornton, in particular, looks elated.
FINAL SCORE: Sharks 5, Avalanche 2
With Timo Meier day-to-day (according to Pete DeBoer, he would be playing if tonight were a playoff game) and Erik Karlsson finally back in the lineup, the Sharks host the dynamic Colorado Avalanche in their season finale.
The Sharks are coming off a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers, getting back in the win column after dropping their previous two. Brent Burns hit the 80 (and 81) point mark and Gustav Nyquist tallied the game-winning goal in their victory over the Oilers. Despite their struggles of late, the Sharks look to gain momentum by putting together back-to-back wins heading into the postseason.
Colorado has been red hot recently, winning eight of their last ten and having just clinched a playoff spot for the second consecutive season, so there’s no doubt they’ll be motivated when they take the ice at the SAP Center. However, they’ll be without All-Star winger Mikko Rantanen, whose 87 points (31 goals, 56 assists) will be sorely missed by the Avalanche.
With Meier’s absence, Joonas Donskoi will get the call to play on the top line with Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski, while Erik Karlsson will play opposite Brenden Dillon on the blueline.
Expected scratches: Timo Meier (wrist), Radim Simek (knee), Tim Heed, Lukas Radil (healthy)
Avalanche (per NHL.com)
Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Alexander Kerfoot
Colin Wilson — Carl Soderberg — J.T. Compher
Matt Nieto — Derick Brassard — Matt Calvert
Sven Andrighetto — Tyson Jost — Gabriel Bourque
Samuel Girard — Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov — Tyson Barrie
Ian Cole — Patrik Nemeth
Expected scratches: Ryan Graves, Mark Barberio (healthy), Vladislav Kamenev (shoulder), Mikko Rantanen (upper body).
Where to Watch
The game will be broadcast on NBCS-CA+ in the Bay Area and is able to stream (for free!) on NHL.tv. Radio call is on 98.5 KFOX or available to stream on the Sharks app. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET from SAP Center.