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Pavelski's OT goal gives Sharks 2-1 series-tying win

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER -- Joe Pavelski has turned into Mr. Clutch for the San Jose Sharks.

The 25-year-old center has scored two goals in the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Colorado Avalanche, and both have been huge. His goal 10:24 into overtime Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center gave the Sharks a 2-1 win that tied the series at two victories each, with Game 5 set for Thursday at the HP Pavilion.

"It's overwhelming at the time," said Pavelski, who fired the puck by goalie Craig Anderson's glove with a laser from above the left hash marks while using defenseman Adam Foote as a screen.

"It was a game we really wanted. To go down 3-1 is a really tough hole. Even up now at 2-2 and going back home, hopefully we can carry this and learn our lesson and get off to another good start."

It was Pavelski who scored with 31.3 seconds remaining in the third period in Game 2 to send that game to overtime, which the Sharks won 6-5.

"That line's been very good for us," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Pavelski, Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi. "It's rewarding because last year we took a lot of heat because we didn't have secondary scoring, but they've certainly provided it this year, scoring big goals. They're playing well at the other end of the rink as well."

Pavelski followed Douglas Murray, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound defenseman, into the Avalanche zone before gaining possession when the puck popped free and unleashing his shot.

"Doug is a big man, I saw him go right at them and I just followed him, hoping that when the puck popped up in the air that it falls there for you. And it did," Pavelski said. "I was able to pull it, get a little space and shoot for an area, and the puck found its way in.

"I was hoping Anderson doesn't see it and I was able to get it by him. Anderson was great all night again, like we expected. We need traffic in front of him and I was able to use their D."

Tuesday's game was the third consecutive overtime in the series, and all four games have been decided by one goal.

The Sharks outshot the Avalanche for the third game in a row, but the 45-34 margin was a lot closer than Sunday's game, when San Jose enjoyed a 51-17 advantage.

"It was a hard-fought game out there and it's certainly going to be a hard-fought series, just like we thought it would be at the start," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "I thought it was a good game. I thought we responded well. I thought we had more energy in our game. When it gets to overtime, it just takes one good shot, and that's what happened.

"We had a couple of chances before Pavelski and, unfortunately, we weren't able to capitalize on them."

Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov made a big save against Ryan O'Reilly five minutes into the overtime after stopping Brandon Yip driving to the net with 1:30 to play in regulation.

"Nabby made some very good saves," McLellan said. "You could feel our bench settle down. It was real important that Nabby performed the way he did tonight. Give Anderson credit, but I prefer to talk about our goaltender tonight because he really stood in and did what he was supposed to do."

It didn't take Dan Boyle long to redeem himself.

The Sharks defenseman, upset for the Game 3 overtime mistake that led to the Avalanche's 1-0 win, scored the lone first-period goal Tuesday.

 "It was nice to see him score right off the bat," McLellan said. "I think that put Game 3 to rest in his mind and to a lot of other players' minds."

Maybe not totally, at least not yet.

 "Until we win the series, it's never going to be completely over," Boyle said. "The only thing that matters to me is winning this series and then I can officially turn the page on that."

Boyle's goal came on a power play 72 seconds into the game with a shot from the left point with Clowe parked in front. It came on the first shot of the game after Anderson had stopped all 51 shots he faced two nights earlier.

"I think coach said it best, he's an elite competitor," Pavelski said of Boyle. "We know he's going to compete and battle. He's done it for us all year. We saw he wanted that puck right away and he grabbed it and fired it and it found a way in. It was a great shot. That's what we expect out of him. He stepped up for us tonight."

The Avalanche tied the game 1-1 at 3:27 of the second period on Paul Stastny's first goal of the series, four seconds after Sharks defenseman Rob Blake went off for interference. Stastny won a faceoff in the left circle, moved to the net and deflected John-Michael Liles' low point shot behind Nabokov.

The Avs had emphasized how important it is to stay out of the penalty box, yet Stastny took a high-sticking penalty on the opening faceoff and the Sharks capitalized with Boyle's goal.

It marked the first time in the series that the Sharks took a lead in regulation.

"Obviously we'd like to have a 3-1 (series) lead, but that's not the way it happened," Anderson said. "The guys played hard. We just didn't get the bounces. It's been tight every game. I think it's going to be hard work and determination and who's willing to pay the price at the end of the day that's going to win."

Shift of the game: The Avalanche had a great chance to win just before the five-minute mark in overtime and grab a commanding 3-1 series lead when Chris Stewart had the puck and faked to shoot, hoping to make Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov commit to him. Instead, Stewart dropped it for Ryan O'Reilly, who fired a hard shot from the left circle that Nabokov stopped. Less than five minutes later, Joe Pavelski scored the winner for San Jose to even the series.

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