The third period has not been kind to the Colorado Avalanche recently, and the stanza once again showed its ugly head on Monday night.
Tied 2-2 going into the final frame against the San Jose Sharks at Pepsi Center, the Avs couldn't slow down Patrick Marleau as the NHL veteran tallied four goals and Colorado fell 5-2 to San Jose.
It was the fifth-straight outing that the Avalanche had been within one score entering the final regulation period but was unable to pull out the win. Colorado has been tied or leading in four of those contests.
"You look at the road trip, I feel like overall we played solid," said Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog. "For the last 80 minutes, going into the third tonight, I thought we played some solid hockey and had done a lot of good things. Tonight, I don't like anything about our third period."
It has been a common theme for the Avs since they returned home from a two-game Western Canada trip in early January. They've played good enough in the first two periods to be in a position to win the contest but haven't been able to close it out in the last frame.
The Avs and Sharks were neck and neck after 40 minutes on Monday. The clubs were tied with nine shots apiece after one period and then 13 shots after two, but San Jose had more jump to begin the final frame and Marleau recorded his natural hat trick with still 9:25 left to play. He added his fourth goal at 16:23 of the period.
"I liked our first two periods. I thought we were good," said Colorado head coach Jared Bednar. "We were making the right decisions with the puck. It was a close-checking game; there wasn't a whole bunch of shots or chances either direction, which was a good sign. Third period, I would say some of our decisions--well it started at the end of the second--I didn't think our 'D' did a very good job moving the puck for us tonight, especially in the neutral zone at the end of the second period. It led to turnovers, and it put us on our heels a little bit."
Video: Coach Bednar's postgame press conference
And of course it was Marleau to power the Sharks past the Avs. The 37-year-old now has 27 tallies and 52 points in 69 career contests against Colorado, the most goals and points for a Sharks player versus the Avalanche.
"He's a good player," Landeskog said. "He's been around for a long time. I mean he's always had a knack for scoring goals and scoring a lot of them. He still has a lot of speed and a lot of skill. He showed that in the third."
Video: Landeskog on Colorado's 3rd period
The Avalanche was forced to use only 19 players after forward Matt Duchene was a late scratch because of an illness, but the team didn't feel that having a short bench is an excuse on why it faltered once again late.
"Honestly, I think we were playing well enough in the first two periods to win this hockey game," Landeskog said. "With or without Dutchy, we got to be able to come up with a win here."
INJURIES AND ILLNESS
Matt Duchene came to Pepsi Center Monday afternoon hoping to play in the evening's game, but he got more ill as game time fast approached and wasn't able to dress in the contest.
"He came to the rink this afternoon, and he wasn't feeling good," Bednar said. "I think he was thinking he was going to play and sat through our meetings and all that tonight, and he was kind of deteriorating as the night went on. So we sent him home. He wasn't able to play."
With Duchene out, the Avs had to field a lineup of 19 instead of the normal 20 with three other players on the team's active roster currently out with injuries.
Tyson Barrie and Rene Bourque both missed the contest with lower-body injuries, while Semyon Varlamov is giving his hurt groin time to rest. It was Barrie's third-straight game that he missed because of his ailment, while it was Bourque's second after getting hurt in the first period of Thursday's contest at the Anaheim Ducks.
Down a center in the lineup, Colorado had to double-shift several forwards throughout the matchup, with Nathan MacKinnon getting the brunt of the extra ice time. He played a season-high 24:58, four seconds shy of his career high that he achieved versus Ottawa on Nov. 25, 2015.
ANOTHER START FOR MARTIN
For the second-consecutive game, and for the second time in a row against the San Jose Sharks, goaltender Spencer Martin was between the pipes for the Avs.
Martin, who made his NHL debut on Saturday in San Jose, closed out the teams' home-and-home series on Monday in his first contest at Pepsi Center.
The Oakville, Ontario, native stopped 27 shots in Saturday's loss and made 21 saves on Monday. He had light work early on as he only faced 13 pucks through the first two periods.
"I didn't think it was too hard to stay focused. I felt like my intensity was there," Martin said of not facing a lot of shots. "Unfortunately, I would like a few of those back. I wasn't able to get all the ones I wanted."
Colorado head coach Jared Bednar said prior to the outing that Calvin Pickard would get the start on Wednesday versus the Vancouver Canucks.