SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks had the Colorado Avalanche at least a bit where they wanted them Sunday. But they were both puzzled and disappointed at the final horn, having fallen 4-3 to the Avalanche in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round.
Instead of being up 2-0, the Sharks head to Denver tied 1-1 with the Avalanche, Game 3 set for Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS).
"We had a 1-0 (first-period) lead," defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said through gritted teeth. "We should have not ended it but poured it on and got the second and third ones, and they'd have been done. We kept them in it."
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Evander Kane agreed.
"We just have to put them away earlier," said Kane, who gave San Jose its only lead of the game with the opening goal at 7:57 of the first period. "We had some chances to extend the lead, and we didn't do that early."
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Colorado turned the game's tide in the second period with two goals, scoring a third midway through the third. Things got interesting in the final 4 1/2 minutes, two Sharks goals wrapped around the fourth by the Avalanche. But there would be no miraculous comeback for San Jose as there had been in Game 7 of the first round against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Sharks roaring back from down 3-0 in the third that night to win 5-4 in overtime to advance to the second round.
"We should have been up two or three after the first," Sharks forward Logan Couture said. "We had too many good looks to not score except one … give ourselves a bigger lead, (but) they found their game in the second.
"I thought we had a pretty good first. We should have been up two or three. We had some really good looks (and) we need to score at this time of the year. If we did that, we would have given ourselves more of a cushion.
"Pretty frustrated and disappointed. Hopefully we get past it quickly and get ready for the next one. We got caught on long shifts, guys were caught out there for long periods of time. They looked faster than us, I don't know if guys weren't ready or what the deal was."
The Sharks, having won three straight home games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, were 3-0 in the postseason when leading after the first period, but they had no answer for the Avalanche's speed and opportunism over the next 30 minutes.
"You've got two really evenly matched teams," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "They found a way to get a split. We have to go there and win at least a game. It's that time of year -- you're down to the final eight teams in the League, and everybody's good."
Defenseman Erik Karlsson liked a lot of what he saw in the Sharks, but he admitted that an inability to add to their 1-0 lead tripped up their game plan.
"We did a lot of good things out there, we just couldn't find a way to score goals," said Karlsson, who had an assist and a San Jose-high six shots on goal on 12 attempts. "We got a little frustrated as the game went along and started doing our own thing a little too much. That doesn't work in here. We should have learned by now, but we didn't. They capitalized on the chances they got and made us play from behind, and we didn't quite catch up at the end.
"We've just got to keep pushing and do the right thing. We know what we have to do in here. Again, this was a stepping-stone for us, we've got to learn from this. We know what we have to do to be successful out there. Unfortunately, today, we just couldn't stick with it for 60 minutes. The few chances they got, they got the bounces … and they made us pay."
Defenseman Brent Burns scored twice and had an assist, but his offensive output was no consolation given the game's final result.
"They're a good team, they're going to push back, we knew that," Burns said. "This time of year, you just have to forget about that one and move on to the next one, win or lose. You head [to Colorado] and got to get a win. ... We know they're going to be flying back home."
And Burns had a one-syllable answer to the question asking what the Sharks must do differently in Game 3.