Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Colorado Avalanche and the San Jose Sharks was somewhat similar to Game One, the polar opposite of Game Two and a contest that could go down as one of the most dramatic victories in Avalanche history.
After a low-scoring 2-1 affair in the series opener and a 6-5 shootout that helped the Sharks even the series, tonight’s contest was a whole different animal.
Tonight, Craig Anderson was the story, as the Colorado netminder stood on his head throughout the game en route to posting a 51-save shutout in a thrilling 1-0 overtime triumph that gave the No. 8 Avalanche a 2-1 series lead over the No. 1 San Jose Sharks.
It could go down as one of the most memorable goaltending performances in franchise history. It most certainly will stand for a while in the record books.
Anderson’s 51 stops are the most ever by a Colorado netminder in a home playoff game and the fourth most overall in Avalanche postseason history.
“They were throwing a lot at the net, driving the net, getting some rebounds,” said Anderson. “ I don’t know how many blocked shots we had; we blocked a bunch. We cleaned up in front. We didn’t let them get second and third opportunities most of the night. That made my night a little easier. Obviously I just need to worry about making the first save.”
Nobody would have blamed Anderson if the Avalanche wouldn’t have come out on top Sunday evening. From the first puck drop, he put forth a sterling effort that kept his team in the game.
After a fairly standard opening frame, the Sharks began to pepper the Park Ridge, Ill., native in the middle frame. San Jose put 21 shots on net in the second period, but Anderson stopped each one, including a huge pad save on Ryane Clowe with 9:20 remaining.
Those 21 stops tied a franchise playoff record for saves in a single period, a mark that he would go on to match in the final frame.
But with the contest heading to overtime, the netminder would thankfully need to make just one more stop to complete his night.
Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly was credited with the overtime winner just 51 seconds into the extra session on a strange play where it appeared Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle shot the puck past Evgeni Nabokov and into his own net.
“I didn’t even see it,” said Anderson. “I’ll have to see the tape. But it’s in the net, that’s all that matters.”
The huge victory put the Avs a game up on the Sharks in their best-of-seven series, but it came at a cost, as two of Colorado’s forwards were injured in the process.Hejduk Injured
Veteran Milan Hejduk
joined David Jones
(knee), Peter Mueller
(concussion) and Kevin Porter
(upper body) on the Avalanche’s injury list early in tonight’s contest.
Just 2:06 into the opening period and with the Avalanche on a power-play, the winger collided with teammate Paul Stastny
at the offensive blue line while Colorado was trying to gain the zone. Play was stopped, and the winger was attended to by Avalanche trainer Matt Sokolowski before heading to the dressing room with a little assistance.
Minutes later, it was announced that Hejduk had suffered an upper body injury, and he did not return to the game thereafter.Stoa Too
Rookie Ryan Stoa
was inserted into the lineup tonight, becoming the 11th different Avalanche player to make his Stanley Cup playoff debut in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Stoa replaced forward Kevin Porter
, who suffered an upper body injury during Game 2 on Sunday evening.
Stoa began the game on a line with Ryan O’Reilly and Darcy Tucker, but was shifted around after Hejduk suffered his injury, as the Avalanche was left with 11 forwards.
However, Stoa’s debut was marred by a lower body injury. The winger skated 11 shifts, totaling 8:45 of ice time, before leaving the game with the injury.
Colorado’s healthy forward scratches tonight were Chris Durno, David Koci and Marek Svatos.
As for the club’s injured forwards, Jones has been practicing and his health has been progressing, but there is no firm date for his return, while Mueller has yet to resume skating after suffering his head injury on April 4.