SHARKS at AVALANCHE
(Colorado leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)
It doesn't seem possible that Colorado could be leading this series with the way San Jose has dominated in shots and scoring chances, but a combination of goalie Craig Anderson and some fortuitous bounces and deflections have the Avalanche in position to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a win Tuesday.
Anderson stopped all 51 shots he faced Sunday after making 46 saves in a Game 2 overtime loss, and Ryan O'Reilly
got a piece of Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle
's attempted backhand pass, causing it to deflect past Evgeni Nabokov for the winning goal instead of behind the net as Boyle intended. Despite getting outshot 42-7 over the final 40 minutes of regulation, Colorado won Game 3 by a 1-0 score at 51 seconds of overtime.
Even if Anderson isn't in the heads of the San Jose shooters after his performance Sunday, it's still important they solve him in the early stages of Game 4 to ensure he does not take up residence there. The Sharks have 50-plus shots in each of the last two games, but if not for a Joe Pavelski
tying goal late in Game 2 and a Devin Setoguchi OT winner, they could be in an 0-3 hole. Meanwhile, Boyle is feeling a lot of personal responsibility for his gaffe that resulted in the only goal of Game 3.
"I wish I could say I turned the page already, but I haven't. I need to play," Boyle said on Monday. "Until we drop the puck (in Game 4) it's probably going to be with me. I think it's probably going to stay with me until the series is done. Hopefully, if we win the series, I can officially turn the page.
"Ten years ago it probably would have been a scary thing. (As a) young guy, I would have been a mess. We're not done, it's 2-1. It was a horrible, horrible situation for me and I feel terrible, but we still have some work to do and we're not done."
Just because Colorado leads the series doesn't necessarily mean the Avalanche are in the driver's seat. Putting all the onus on Anderson to stand on his head for an entire seven-game series against a team with San Jose's firepower figures to catch up with them sooner or later, so the emphasis for Game 4 has to be doing a better job at keeping the shots against down and generating more chances on Nabokov.
"We want to make his job easier than it was, no question," coach Joe Sacco said. "In order for us to do that, we have to try and stay out of the box. When you're killing penalty after penalty, the momentum changes. They're a good team, and you can't take that away from them. We're certainly looking forward to the next game and we'll make some adjustments. We'll try to make sure we're playing in their end more."
Anderson has a .946 save percentage in the series. None of the Sharks could put a puck past him in Game 3, but it wasn't for a lack of trying -- Setoguchi and Ryan Clowe had eight shots apiece and Manny Malhotra, promoted to the top line in the absence of Dany Heatley, had seven.
Heatley missed Sunday's game with an undisclosed injury but San Jose coach Todd McLellan termed him likely to play Tuesday. … Colorado lost forwards Milan Hejduk
(upper body) and Ryan Stoa
(lower body) in Game 3. Stoa entered the lineup in place of Kevin Porter
, who suffered an upper-body injury in Game 2. They are all day-to-day, though Stoa seems least likely to play in Game 4.
Anderson's 50 saves in regulation without allowing a goal in Game 3 set an NHL postseason record.
"Our guys are excited to be in the position they're in," Sacco told the Denver Post. "Hopefully, (Tuesday) night we can have another exciting crowd and just try to get another win."