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Sharks 2, Avalanche 4: San Jose can’t hang

Kahkonen is coming into his own, but the team’s offense is going to need work.

Andre Burakovsky #95 of the Colorado Avalanche scores against the San Jose Sharks at Ball Arena on March 31, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Sharks 4-2. Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

I doubt anyone thought the San Jose Sharks were going to win tonight. The team very simply lacks the depth, speed and experience to hang with the league’s top dogs right now and the Colorado Avalanche are the top of the top.

But to their credit, San Jose kept this game tighter than should be reasonable, given the level of competition. Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen looked confident, keeping the score from running away, with several huge stops, especially in the first and third periods, when San Jose’s offense was at its weakest.

The Avalanche have had their share of struggles lately and it’s clear they saw this game as a chance to correct course before the slog of the postseason. Though the Sharks didn’t make it easy, the writing was on the wall pretty early on.

It wasn’t a win in for the standings, but it was a win for Team Tank. Kahkonen looking solid was a bonus.


Comment of the Game

The thread was just a bunch of sad truths and then “Well, not with a puck anyway” took me out. Great work by both of you.


First Period

18:26: First minute being controlled by Colorado, as expected.

17:03: The Avs are out-skating the Sharks on every level already, they don’t have a chance.

15:58: Nathan MacKinnon is a cheat code. What a top line.

15:14: The Sharks just can’t establish any offensive zone time yet. Not an ideal start.

14:30: Sharks finally get a couple of shots on Pavel Francouz from their ... fourth line? OK.

13:41: There we go, a little bit more time in the offensive zone for San Jose’s second line. Still not getting much of a cycle, especially compared to Colorado.

12:50: Man, Timo Meier forced his way into the offensive zone, just for the puck to end up on an Avalanche stick and play speeds the other direction. Colorado’s speed will eat you alive.

11:41: The teamwork of the Avalanche is unreal. The positional awareness and ability to use each other to create fake-outs is elite play-making.

11:32: Ryan Merkley gets a delayed call for holding on MacKinnon and Sharks are on the penalty kill.

10:20: Kaapo Kahkohnen is looking solid. Goaltending has been a huge part of the Sharks’ penalty kill, good to see him holding things down, too.

9:32: Penalty expires, back to 5-on-5.

7:53: There’s just no urgency or drive from anyone except for Meier and maybe Hertl?

7:17: Just as the Sharks start to establish themselves in the offensive zone, the Avs snatch the puck in the slot and take no time to get out of the zone. Story of the game.

6:18: Rudolfs Blacers getting praise from the Avalanche broadcast, that’s something. Aside from Noah Gregor, he’s probably the quickest winger they’ve got, and unlike Gregor, he’s got pretty silky mitts.

4:45: Honestly surprised the Avalanche haven’t scored yet.

3:54: Kahkonen with a huge stop on Cale Makar. I think I like this goaltender, y’all.

3:15: Matt Nieto just got flattened by Kurtis MacDermid, oof.

2:11: The Makar chance came from a quick transition play by MacKinnon and I think that woke up San Jose, there’s a little more urgency to close out the period.

1:06: Hertl is trying so hard for a goal, but Colorado is clogging the crease.

0:46: Alex Newhook with a quick shot, Kahkonen with the save.

0:25: Meier went to drop pass ... and no one was there, and Devon Toews snatches the puck without hesitation.

END FIRST: Sharks 0, Avalanche 0

Second Period

18:06: Scoring breaks from a crazy goal from Newhook. At the top and between the two circles, he gets the puck from Erik Johnson at the blueline and spins to send in the one-timer.

Sharks are challenging for goaltender interference. J.T. Compher and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are to Kahkonen’s right, while Nicolas Meloche pursues Nico Sturm, who comes in on Kahkonen’s left. Doesn’t look like anyone makes contact preventing him from establishing position.

Goal stands. 1-0, Avalanche.

Sharks now get a delay of game penalty for the failed challenge.

16:06: Successful kill.

15:00: Top line struggling to maintain the zone.

13:38: Kahkonen with a save on MacKinnon.

13:25: And he follows it up with a save on Nazem Kadri.

12:58: Loud ping off the post by the Avs.

12:20: Meloche breaks up a 2-on-1 with a Brent Burns-style slide.

11:54: After a bit of a delay, Toews goes off for hooking. Sharks will get a power play.

10:28: Andrew Cogliano gets a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Makar, that’s not fun to have him on the other side of that.

7:51: Who else but Timo Meier? Top shelf over an extended Francouz on what would’ve been a delayed penalty on Hertl and we’ve got a tied game. 1-1.

5:53: The Sharks are tightening things up, but this is a difficult game for them. They simply do not have the depth or speed of Colorado. This period has looked a bit better than the first, but it also looks incredibly exhausting on one side of the ice more than the other.

4:17: Sturm and MacDermid shoved Scott Reedy down to the ice in a battle for the puck along the boards. Jeffrey Viel didn’t like that, started shoving MacDermid. Nothing happened, but between this and the Nieto hit earlier, you’ve got to imagine that’ll boil over in the third period.

Looks like Compher got called for delay of game there, too. Sharks to the power play.

2:42: The Avalanche are great at making zone entries difficult. The Sharks don’t have players to either body or skate their way through traffic.

2:17: Penalty expires.

1:53: Avs with some pressure here as the period winds down.

END SECOND: Sharks 1, Avalanche 1

Third Period

19:03: Avalanche shaking things up and coming out strong.

17:37: Puck was sort of lost in the crease, Sharks thought it went in, but it never appeared to cross the goal line and play goes on.

16:55: Valeri Nichushkin plucks the puck out of the air, passes it to Darren Helm, who buries it up close on Kahkonen. 2-1, Avalanche.

16:10: Avs follow it up with an extended shift in the offensive zone. Sharks don’t have much left in the tank.

14:23: Sturm with breakaway, stopped by Kahkonen.

13:31: Holy smokes, Brent Burns. Just a quick shot from the top of the right circle that goes in. Tied again, 2-2.

13:09: Kadri went down and the training is coming out to the ice. Hertl crosschecked Kadri and he ran into Meier. Looks like some blood on Kadri’s nose (probably a cut from his visor) and he’s hunched over cussing on the bench. I’m going to guess he got the wind knocked out of him. The collision didn’t look particularly violent and he’s reacting like it’s torso pain.

He’s going off the ice now, so maybe checking for a rib injury or something head-related.

11:29: Nichushkin attempts a breakaway, puck gets away from him.

9:34: Kadri back on the ice, that’s probably a good sign.

8:51: Meloche off for slashing Kadri, huge penalty kill coming up.

8:32: Logan Couture with a shorthanded opportunity, poked away by Makar.

7:43: Kadri sets up Rantanen for a power play number and the Avs take a 3-2 lead.

5:20: Avalanche have taken control in the third.

4:44: Andre Burakovsky through traffic ad it’s 4-2, Avalanche.

2:46: Barabanov breaks into the zone, he’s been quietly reliable.

2:30: Barabanov is now fighting Makar and Rantanen and suddenly everyone is involved. Looks like Barabanov got his stick ripped away from him and started getting fighty because of it.

Makar, Barabanov and Hertl heading to the box. Avalanche are going to get a power play out of it.

0:30: Penalty killed, not that it would matter much either way.

And that’s game.

FINAL SCORE: Sharks 2, Avalanche 4


Like I said yesterday, the grind never stops, no matter how much we might desperately want it to. The San Jose Sharks are back in action tonight, after losing to the Arizona Coyotes just a few short hours ago. Don’t set your expectations too high for a bounce-back performance: the Colorado Avalanche have bested the Florida Panthers by two wins to make them the league’s top team — at least for the moment.

The good news is we’ll get a little check-in with Andrew Cogliano before he heads to the postseason and perhaps a Cup Final.

Here’s everything you need to know to tune in:

Lines

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Timo Meier — Tomas Hertl — Alexander Barabanov
Rudolfs Balcers — Logan Couture — Noah Gregor
John Leonard — Nick Bonino — Sasha Chmelevski
Jonah Gadjovich — Scott Reedy — Jeffrey Viel

Jaycob Megna — Brent Burns
Erik Karlsson — Nicolas Meloche
Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Ryan Merkley

Kaapo Kahkonen
James Reimer

Expected Scratches: Radim Simek, Lane Pederson

Injured Reserve: Adin Hill (lower body), Mario Ferraro (lower body), Kevin Labanc (shoulder), Matt Nieto (undisclosed), Jonathan Dahlen (upper body)

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Valeri Nichushkin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Artturi Lehkonen — Nazem Kadri — Andre Burakovsky
Alex Newhook — Nico Sturm — J.T. Compher
Andrew Cogliano — Darren Helm — Logan O’Connor

Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Jack Johnson — Josh Manson
Kurtis MacDermid — Erik Johnson

Pavel Francouz
Darcy Kuemper

Expected Scratches: Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Bowen Byram

Injured Reserve: Ryan Murray (upper body), Samuel Girard (lower body), Gabriel Landeskog (knee surgery)

How to Watch

Tonight’s game will be broadcast regionally on NBCSCA and Altitude. Streaming is available with a subscription to ESPN+ (blackout restrictions do apply). The radio call will be streamed through the Sharks Audio Network. Puck drop is at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado.