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Avalanche squander power play, giving Sharks boost in Game 1

San Jose rallies after killing four-minute penalty in second period

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- The opportunity to win Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round was there for the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center on Friday.

They had a one-goal lead on the San Jose Sharks and were awarded a four-minute power play when Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon was sent to the penalty box for high-sticking J.T. Compher at 4:56 of the second period.

But it was the Sharks who seized the moment, killing the penalty and then scoring four straight goals to rally for a 5-2 win.

 

[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

It gave San Jose the lead in the best-of-7 series with Game 2 here Sunday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, SN).

"I think that was a bit of us trying to force it," Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie said. "I feel like we kind of squandered it. We mishandled a few pucks, a couple of needless mistakes, trying to force it. It's too big of an opportunity in game like this to not bear down and at least create some good chances."

The Avalanche took a 2-1 lead with a power-play deflection goal from Colin Wilson at 3:56. It was Colorado's sixth power-play goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, after scoring five in a five-game elimination of the Calgary Flames.

Video: COL@SJS, Gm1: Wilson redirects puck for PPG

Dillon was sent to the box 60 seconds later and the game appeared to be shifting to the Avalanche. But they weren't direct enough with their attack, captain Gabriel Landeskog said.

"I thought we had a couple of plays where we could have shot the puck," he said. "There's one where [Nathan MacKinnon] comes around the net and gives it to me and I pass it up to Tyson, instead of walking in and hammering that one. So we're going to have to simplify a little bit but ... I feel good about where our power play's at. It would have been nice for a 3-1 goal there, no doubt, but we're going to have to execute better next time."

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said the four-minute failure was the turning point of the game, without a doubt.

"It can be a difference-maker for you, especially for us as that point," Bednar said. "If we get another one it's a two-goal lead. We didn't get a bunch of really good looks. We had a couple of shots. [Landeskog] took one to the net low and (Sharks goalie Martin Jones) got his pad on it, but no real good, quality looks there. So they feed off it a little bit and they get going."

Joe Thornton scored on a 2-on-1 at 10:05 to tie it 2-2, 1:09 after Dillon's penalty ended. Kevin Labanc and Brent Burns then scored less than three minutes apart to give San Jose a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.

Video: COL@SJS, Gm1: Thornton beats Grubauer on odd-man rush

The Sharks penalty ranked 14th of 16 playoff teams heading into the game (21-for-29, 72.4 percent).

"That was a game-changer," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We needed that. I think we talked going into the playoffs and after the first round (a seven-game win against the Vegas Golden Knights) that our special teams are going to have to win us games and ... I thought our penalty kill was a big part of the win tonight."

Thornton, who had a goal, an assist and was plus-3, said the Sharks felt the boost from killing Dillon's penalty.

"You felt kind of the spirit in here a little bit more, it was a four-minute penalty, that's tough for a high stick, but after that we kind of got our confidence off that kill and really went from there," he said.

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