In a tight game on Saturday night, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Colorado Avalanche, with a 2-1 final score that probably flatters the effort made by Colorado. This may have been the best game that the Sharks have played in this series.
As we well know, the Sharks were shutout in their previous game in Colorado. It appeared that Kevin Labanc ended the Sharks goalless drought in the middle of the first period.
But, of course, the goal was called off, because the trailing referee called Timo Meier for high-sticking before the puck went in. It was a tough swing for the Sharks, from being up 1-0 to being scoreless and needing to kill a penalty. The Sharks killed off the penalty and didn't give Colorado many good looks in the process.
The Sharks' special teams were very good in Game 5. The penalty killers held the potent Avalanche power play to just six shot attempts and a single shot on goal for the night. When the Sharks had the man-advantage, they generated 20 shot attempts, 13 of which were on goal. This, of course, includes the Sharks' first goal of the night — a deflection by Tomas Hertl to tie the game late in the second.
It is no secret that we here at Fear the Fin Hockey Blogging, Salt Water Taffy and Industrial Manufacturing, LLP have been critical of Martin Jones over the past several months. Last night, he was great. Jones only saw 22 shots, but many of those were very dangerous. This game could have easily gotten away from the Sharks, but Martin Jones made sure that did not happen.
Jones wasn’t asked to make many saves, but he was asked to make some difficult ones. The only puck that got behind him was one that took a number of wild bounces after he made the initial save. We can’t really blame him for that one.
At the other end of the ice, Philipp Grubauer also played very well. Aside from the disallowed Labanc goal, he kept the puck out until Hertl’s goal at the end of the second period, even though he had seen much more rubber than had Jones.
The Sharks' top three lines were fantastic. No disrespect to Barclay Goodrow, Melker Karlsson and Micheal Haley, but they finished the night with just 21.19 percent of the score- and venue-adjusted (SVA) shot attempts at 5-on-5 on the night. The line of Hertl, Evander Kane and Joonas Donskoi led the way with 63.60 percent of the 5-on-5 SVA shot attempts. The lines of Gustav Nyquist, Logan Couture and Timo Meier and Joe Thornton, Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc were both above 60 percent at 5-on-5 SVA shot attempts, as well. That is a dominant performance by the three lines that saw the lion’s share of the ice time.
In dominating possession like this, the Sharks were able to limit the chances of one of the most dangerous lines in the league. The line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen had just 48.60 percent of the 5-on-5 SVA shot attempts while they were on the ice. This is huge for the Sharks: if they can neutralize this potent line, the Sharks should have a good chance at winning.
Finally, this was possibly the best game that Erik Karlsson has played in the postseason. He led all Sharks skaters in time on ice and made several great plays at both ends of the ice. You love to see it.