Avalanche keep pace in Central Division with win against Sharks
MacKinnon, Landeskog each has goal, assist for Colorado, which remains two points out of first placeby Ross McKeon / NHL.com Independent Correspondent
SAN JOSE -- The Colorado Avalanche remained two points out of first place in the Central Division with a 4-3 win against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Sunday.
Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and two assists for Colorado (41-19-8), which stayed two points behind the St. Louis Blues, who won 2-0 at the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. Pavel Francouz made 22 saves for the Avalanche.
"I thought our big guys had a really good night," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "Our top line was outstanding. They end up scoring three goals, one on the power play. We'll take it. I like the two points."
[WATCH: All Avalanche vs. Sharks highlights]
Martin Jones made 20 saves for San Jose (29-35-5), which is 0-2-1 in its past three games.
"For four games in six nights, I thought we played hard," Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. "We had guys playing out of position, up spots in the lineup, more minutes than they're used to, and young guys that we had no choice but to play."
Vladislav Namestnikov scored at 8:41 of the second period to give the Avalanche a 3-2 lead. The goal came 26 seconds after Francouz made a save against Evander Kane on a breakaway.
Video: COL@SJS: Namestnikov puts Avalanche back on top
Joonas Donskoi scored at 15:27 of the third period to make it 4-2. Donskoi played the first four seasons of the NHL career with the Sharks before he signed a four-year contract as an unrestricted free agent with the Avalanche on July 1, 2019.
"I've never had that experience before," Donskoi said of his return. "So there was some extra nervousness maybe. A lot of memories. Good stuff tonight. It was a good experience for me. It was fun to see those guys."
Noah Gregor scored a power-play goal with 44 seconds remaining and Jones pulled for an extra attacker for the 4-3 final.
"We got our chances, but it comes down to inches," Sharks forward Kevin Labanc said. "It's frustrating. We all want to be winning, we all want to be producing."
Landeskog scored at 1:59 of the second period on a rebound to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead.
"I thought we could have got more," Landeskog said. "I liked the way we played. I liked the way we found each other. We had that attack mentality."
Video: COL@SJS: Landeskog cleans up after MacKinnon dangle
The Sharks tied it 2-2 when Melker Karlsson scored on a breakaway at 3:41 of the second.
Joe Thornton's third goal in five games gave San Jose a 1-0 lead at 11:16 of the first period, but MacKinnon's 35th of the season tied it 1-1 at 16:17.
Sharks forward Logan Couture left the game after he was hit in the cheek by a deflected puck at 10:50 of the first period. He went through the NHL concussion protocol and was held out as a precaution.
"I think he'll be fine," Boughner said. "It definitely left a hole in our already thin lineup up front. That MacKinnon line is tough to handle as is, even tougher without Couture. They were the best line on the ice."
Video: COL@SJS: Thornton opens scoring with PPG
They said it
"It's going to be fun down the stretch, no doubt. That's our goal, to chase those guys down. We know we have them in Game 82 (on April 4). We're trying to focus on game by game. I'm sure they're doing the same thing." -- Avalanche forward Vladislav Namestnikov on Colorado's pursuit of the Blues
"We've been battling through a lot of injuries this year. It's hockey. It's going to happen this year. It's going to happen next year and the year after that. We've got to find ways to bring the next guy up and be ready to take that responsibility. It's an on-going learning process." -- Sharks forward Kevin Labanc
Need to know
It was Francouz's 20th win of the season. … Landeskog has scored in three straight games and extended his point streak to eight (five goals, 12 assists). MacKinnon, who a four-game streak (two goals, six assists), set an NHL career high with his 29th multipoint game of the season. … Namestnikov has three goals and two assists in seven games since being acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 24. … Thornton played his 1,635th game to tie Scott Stevens for ninth on the NHL all-time list. The Avalanche hadn't allowed a power-play goal in 11 straight games until Thornton scored. … Sharks forward Timo Meier had two assists.
Avalanche: At the Los Angeles Kings on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-W, ALT2, NHL.TV)
Sharks: At the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS)