The Colorado Avalanche limited the San Jose Sharks' chances and played a strong defensive game on Thursday to get back to its winning ways.
The Avs skated to a 4-0 victory at Pepsi Center as Philipp Grubauer stopped all 27 shots he faced in the matchup to earn his first shutout of the season--the 10th of his career.
"I think we are a whole different team when we play that way," said the German netminder. "That's the way we played last year when we turned it around before we got into the playoffs. We started playing playoff hockey basically in January, February, so it makes my job really easy if the guys play like this. That was unbelievable. One of the best games I've seen this team play."
It was Grubauer's fourth clean slate as a member of the Avalanche and his first since March 17 (New Jersey). The shutout was also Colorado's second of the year after Adam Werner and Pavel Francouz produced a combined team shutout on Nov. 12 at the Winnipeg Jets.
Video: SJS@COL: Grubauer earns shutout in Avalanche win
The Avs' defensive effort also led to them having success offensively. Valeri Nichushkin opened the scoring with Colorado's first shot of the game just 45 seconds after the puck dropped, and Cale Makar extended the Avalanche's lead to 2-0 with three seconds remaining in the first stanza.
The Avalanche had four different players tally while four others contributed assists. It was the 23rd time this season Colorado scored four or more goals in a game.
"If you look at the last couple games like the first period was unbelievable then the second period, we kind of stopped playing a little bit. Today, shift after shift after shift guys did the same thing," said Grubauer. "I think that made a huge difference. We don't let the other team come back and get a sniff so that was really good."
Colorado had dropped its previous two games in overtime, falling 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday and 3-2 to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, but was building on strong performances in both those outings.
With the shutout victory versus San Jose, the Avalanche is now 1-0-2 during its season-long, five-game homestand at Pepsi Center.
Video: Philipp Grubauer shuts out the Sharks
"I think everybody can be proud of themselves how they played today," said Grubauer. "As a team, everybody did the right stuff. We got to build on that. We built on that since the Pittsburgh game. First period was unbelievable, last game was really good and this game was the most complete I have seen so we got to make sure we get consistency in that and move on."
The Avs gave the Sharks two power-play opportunities but limited them to four shots on goal while with the man advantage. Matt Calvert also tallied while Colorado was killing a penalty, the seventh time this year that the Avalanche has scored a short-handed goal.
"Penalty kill was really good today. They have been putting in a lot of work, [assistant coach Nolan Pratt] and the penalty kill, here recently because we needed to be better and I thought the guys really bought in tonight," said head coach Jared Bednar. "Real good pace to it, create some turnovers and we get the short-handed goal, which was a big goal, so I liked our effort tonight a lot."
SHORT AND SWEET
Matt Calvert's shorty was his third of the season, tying his personal high for short-handed tallies in a campaign set in 2016-17 with Columbus. It is also tied for the most in the NHL this season.
Video: SJS@COL: Calvert scores on shorthanded breakaway
"I think [Pierre-Edouard] Bellemare gets a stick on it to knock it or disrupt them at the line and they are coming into the right areas, and then good jump and a great skill play on the goal to get him going one way and then slide it in on the other side of the net," Bednar said of Calvert's tally. "Again, it's a full team effort. I liked it. We got to the net, we shot the puck with opportunity, defended hard. We got to go repeat it."
Calvert now has nine short-handed goals in his career and is one point shy of 200 in the NHL.
Cale Makar notched his 10th goal of the season to tie John-Michael Liles (10 in 2003-04) for the most tallies in a single season by a rookie D-man in franchise history.
The marker came with three seconds remaining in the first period after Nazem Kadri won a faceoff back to Makar, and he threw the puck through traffic to beat San Jose goaltender Martin Jones far-side.
Video: SJS@COL: Makar scores to tie team record
"It's lucky. It went off their guys stick and in," said Makar. "You need some of that luck sometimes and we haven't been getting it lately, but tonight we got a few bounces and it was nice."
It was the first of two Avalanche goals that came off a faceoff win as Ryan Graves also tallied after Vladislav Kamenev won a draw back to him in the second period.
MORE AVALANCHE NOTES
The Avs' 3.57 goals-per-game average ranks third in the NHL. Colorado scored twice in the opening frame and continues to lead the league in first-period goals with 56.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare finished with an assist and now has 17 points this season, a new career high that surpasses his previous best of 16 points during the 2017-18 campaign with Vegas.
Vladislav Kamenev recorded an assist for his sixth point of the season, surpassing his career high from last year.
Valeri Nichushkin's first-period tally stood as the game-winner and is the third game-winning goal of his career, a new career best that surpasses his previous high of two set during his rookie campaign with Dallas in 2013-14.
J.T. Compher skated in his 200 NHL game. He had two shot attempts, two blocked shots, a hit and won 69 percent (9-for-13) of his faceoff draws in 14:51 of ice time in the contest.