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Postgame Wrap-Up: Colorado's Stanley Cup Ambition Falls Short

Avalanche loses to Sharks in tight Game 7

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

SAN JOSE, Calif.--The Colorado Avalanche went on an 8-0-2 run in the final weeks of the regular season to secure a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth for a second straight year. The team then defeated the Western Conference's top team, the Calgary Flames, in five games in the first round and followed it up by taking the West's second-best club to a decisive seventh contest.

Losing Game 7 wasn't how the Avs wanted their season to end.

Colorado fell 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night at SAP Center in the second-round set that went the distance.

"We set high expectations for ourselves, and we came up a little bit short," said Avs head coach Jared Bednar. "I think our guys worked every day to try and fulfill our expectations of our group. It was a real good series, but they were the better team for too big a proportion of tonight's game and they won. They deserved to win. I loved our push at the end, we had some chances to tie it. Our guys fought real hard all the way to the end, and we came out a little short."

The Avs nearly rallied from a two-goal deficit twice against the Sharks but ultimately couldn't score the one that would tie the outing. Colorado outshot San Jose 15-2 in the third period, but the only puck it could get past goaltender Martin Jones was Tyson Jost's marker 51 seconds into the stanza.

Video: Gabriel Landeskog after the Game 7 loss

"For us, it's what we've done all year long," said captain Gabriel Landeskog. "We're down, but we're not out. We're going to keep fighting. We had some good looks there at the end. If we were able to capitalize on some of those, [but] Jones made some big saves. It stings."

The Avalanche made consecutive trips to the postseason for the first time since a run of 11 straight campaigns from 1995 to 2006, and the franchise reached the second round for the first time since 2008.

Despite being one of the final eight teams in the NHL's Stanley Cup tournament, Colorado wanted more.

"It's obviously nice to take a step as an organization," said Nathan MacKinnon. "We haven't won a round in 10, 12 years, whatever it was… We felt, especially with how the East was shaking out and with the West as well, that we could have won the Cup this year. It's so disappointing. We truly felt that we could have won everything. It was up for grabs. It was the year of the upset."

In a way, the Avs' final game of the season was a microcosm of their season. They've had to battle through the ups and downs of the campaign, and Game 7 was no different.

"As far as resiliency goes, we showed a lot over the course of the year, but I think we can do a better job on quite a few different things and kind of get to a more well-rounded game," said Avalanche veteran Ian Cole. "Playoffs are so tight checking that it's tough to spot other teams leads and try and come back. We did it a few times, but there is a reason why it is tough to score goals in the playoffs."

Video: Jared Bednar after the Game 7 loss in San Jose

The 2019 postseason is further proof of how difficult it is to win a Stanley Cup. The year began with 31 teams with high hopes for a championship, but only one is going to win the last game of the season.

"This league is tough to win in," Bednar said. "You see the teams that are out, some good teams didn't make the playoffs, and even better teams went out in the first round.

"The further we went into the playoffs, the more we learned about our team and how hard it is to win and how we needed to adapt. So that is growth of our group."

 

OFFSIDE CALL: Colin Wilson appeared to tie the game for the Avalanche at 2-2 at 7:49 of the second period, but the goal was overturned when the Sharks challenged for offside.

Upon review, it was determined that Gabriel Landeskog was on the wrong side of the blue line while going off for a line change as Colorado simultaneously entered the attacking zone with the puck. One of the doors on both team benches are in the offensive end.

"It seems like such a minute detail whether he is onside or offside, so it's strange," Bednar said. "You know, it's strange. It's something we could have done without tonight, no question."

The NHL said Landeskog not tagging up to the blue line caused the offside in that situation. According to Rule 83.3 (i), "All players of the offending team clear the zone at the same instant (skate contact with the blue line) permitting the attacking players to re-enter the attacking zone."

 

MACKINNON HURT, RETURNS: Nathan MacKinnon was hurt 1:51 into the first period after colliding into the neutral zone boards. He went to the locker room for evaluation but returned later in the period.

On his first shift back on the ice, MacKinnon had the team's best scoring chance of the game to that point. He split two Sharks players for a mini breakaway, but San Jose goalie Martin Jones was able to contain the ensuing shot.

"He comes back, first shift, he gets a breakaway, gets another chance, and Jones makes a couple huge saves there," Bednar said. "We capitalize on one of those chances, things might start to turn a little bit earlier."

MacKinnon finished the playoffs with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 12 games.

Video: Nathan MacKinnon after the Game 7 loss in San Jose

 

MORE POSTGAME NOTES: The Avalanche/Nordiques franchise is now 6-8 all-time in Game 7s, including a 4-7 record since the team relocated to Denver.

The Avs were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill to finish the series 18-for-20 (90 percent).

Mikko Rantanen registered a goal to finish the postseason with 14 points (six goals, eight assists), tied for the most in the league.

Gabriel Landeskog tallied an assist and had eight points (three goals, five assists) in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs to set a new postseason career high and surpass his previous best of seven points (four goals, three assists) during the 2018 playoffs.

Tyson Jost extended his goal streak to a career-long three games, which was also tied for the longest such streak by an Avalanche player in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen).

Video: COL@SJS, Gm7: Sharks, Avalanche exchange handshakes

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