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Second Round

Avalanche eliminated from playoffs after MacKinnon, power play falter

Lack of secondary scoring, support for Grubauer contribute to second-round ouster by Sharks

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

The Colorado Avalanche were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven games by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Second Round.

The Avalanche, who earned the second wild card into the playoffs from the West, lost Game 7 3-2 at SAP Center on Wednesday.

Colorado advanced to the second round for the first time since 2008 but hasn't gone further since 2002, when it defeated the Sharks in seven games in the Conference Semifinals.

The Avalanche, two seasons removed from finishing in last place in the NHL, won the Western Conference First Round series in five games against the Calgary Flames.

"It's obviously nice to take a step as an organization," center Nathan MacKinnon said. "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."

Video: Sharks dispatch Avalanche in seven, move on to WCF


Here are 5 reasons the Avalanche were eliminated in the second round:


1. Poor power play

After converting five of 25 power plays (20 percent) against Calgary, the Avalanche went 2-for-23 (11.5 percent) against the Sharks. They scored on their first power play in Game 1, but went 1-for-22 the rest of the series.

Colorado spent too much time passing around the perimeter looking for perfect shots rather than putting pucks on net trying for deflections, tips and rebounds.

"There was an attack mentality that was missing a little bit at times," coach Jared Bednar said. "Inconsistent. I think the puck's got to move a little quicker and we had to do more to shoot the puck to soften them up, retrieve some pucks and try to attack with chaos."


2. MacKinnon slowed down

MacKinnon had 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 12 playoff games, but he didn't have a point in the final three games of the series after he had five points (three goals, two assists) in the first four, part of an eight-game streak that accounted for all his postseason points. Sharks defensemen Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic made it especially hard for MacKinnon to find the time and space he needed to use his exceptional speed.

He sustained a shoulder injury 1:44 into the first period of Game 7, and San Jose took a 2-0 lead in his absence. MacKinnon was able to return after being administered an injection for pain, but he wasn't 100 percent.

Video: Avalanche battled adversity early in Game 7 loss


3. Off-center at SAP Center

The Avalanche lost three of four road games; they were defeated 2-1 in Game 5 with a chance to take a 3-2 series lead and 3-2 in Game 7 with the chance to advance to the conference final.

Including the regular season, Colorado is 3-18-5 in the past 26 games at SAP Center dating back to the 2006-07 season.


4. Little help for Grubauer

Goalie Philipp Grubauer kept the Avalanche in every game, but they didn't score more than two goals in any of their losses during the series.
"He was making everything look easy," defenseman Erik Johnson said. "Can't say enough good things about him and how well he played."


5. Secondary scoring dried up

The depth scoring that was so important for Colorado down the stretch in the regular season didn't surface until the final two games, when forward J.T. Compher and center Tyson Jost combined for four goals and one assist.

Forward Alexander Kerfoot, who was given ample time for a while on the top line with Gabriel Landeskog and MacKinnon, didn't have a goal in the series. Neither did center Carl Soderberg, who had an NHL career-high 23 goals during the season, nor forward Derick Brassard, who was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Feb. 25. Defenseman Tyson Barrie, who had an NHL career-high 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) this season, didn't have a point in the last five games after having eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his previous five.

Video: Jones tightens up, leads Sharks to second Game 7 win


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