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Sharks edge Avalanche in shootout

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- TJ Galiardi picked a good time to score his first goal of the season for the struggling San Jose Sharks.

Galiardi scored just 2:55 into the second period, giving the Sharks a 2-1 lead Tuesday night over the Colorado Avalanche, his former team, and a rare goal from their fourth line. San Jose went on to win 3-2 in a shootout at HP Pavilion, but Galiardi's goal was crucial for a team that has had little production from its third and fourth lines.

"Yeah, it's obviously been something we've struggled with this whole season," Galiardi said. "We've been looking for chemistry on our third and fourth lines, and every now and then you've got to switch guys in with our first two lines. It's' obviously pretty early. We had one goal. It's about stringing them together now."

Nothing has come easily lately for the struggling Sharks -- even when they win. They started the day out of the top eight in the Western Conference for the first time this season, but finished the night in seventh place with 21 points with just their second victory in their past 11 games.

After blowing leads of 1-0 and 2-1, the Sharks fate came down to a shootout.

Michal Handzus opened the shootout with a goal, and Patrick Marleau scored the clincher against Semyon Varlamov in the fourth round after PA Parenteau snuck the puck past Anti Niemi in Round 3.

Logan Couture also scored for the Sharks in regulation, and Niemi made 25 saves.

"Big win. Real big win," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It's so hard to win right now. Obviously, we played a pretty solid game throughout. (We) made a couple mistakes that ended up in our net. But (it’s) tough to win, and I'm glad our group got the reward tonight, because we probably deserved it."

Chuck Kobasew and Mark Olver scored for the Avalanche, who received 39 saves from Varlamov but lost their third straight game.

"It was a tough game for us," Varlamov said. "We're down 2-1 and we get the tying goal. But (we) can't win the shootout. But at least we get a point. We'd like the two points."

Olver tied it 2-2 with just 3:19 left in regulation, banging in a rebound from just left of the crease. After a review, the goal was ruled to be good. Cody McLeod and Jan Hejda earned the assists.

San Jose captain Joe Thornton nearly ended it a minute into overtime, but Varlamov made a glove save of his shot from the right circle. Defenseman Justin Braun had a good scoring chance with under a minute left in OT, but Varlamov stopped his blast.

"I like the fact we show some resiliency after falling behind twice," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "We were able to tie the game somewhat late and that was a big point for us. It's disappointing we weren't able to scratch out that second point. I thought our goalie was outstanding. He gave us a chance to hang around there until the end."

The Sharks’ offensive struggles -- particularly on the power play -- continued Tuesday. They went 0-for-6 with the man advantage and have scored just three times in the past 59 chances.

The Sharks needed just 25 seconds to take a 1-0 lead on Couture's one-timer from the slot. Thornton got the puck below the right circle near the boards and zipped a pass to a hard-charging, wide-open Couture, who beat Varlamov. The goal was Couture's seventh of the season and snapped his eight-game stretch without a goal.

"It's good to get one quick, and hopefully I can build off this and get a couple more," Couture said.

Colorado pulled even on Kobasew's second goal of the season at 12:13. Niemi stopped Milan Hejduk's long blast from above the left circle but couldn't corral the puck, and Kobasew poked the rebound into the net from just right of the crease. Patrick Bordeleau earned the other assist for his first NHL point.

Galiardi gave San Jose a 2-1 early in the second, snapping a long goal scoring slump. The goal was just his second in 29 games, including three in the postseason, since coming to the Sharks from Colorado on Feb. 27 last year with forward Daniel Winnik in a trade for Jamie McGinn and two prospects.

"It's been a long time since I've scored, and especially with this team, I haven't really produced," Galiardi said. "So hopefully we can get it going now."

James Sheppard, just minutes after dropping from the third to the fourth line in a swap with Andrew Desjardins, made it all possible. He moved the puck behind the net to below the right circle and made a backhand, cross-crease pass to Galiardi, who scored from point-blank range.

Adam Burish also earned an assist, notching his first point as a Shark.

"I just kind of spun around and threw it toward the net," Sheppard said. Luckily, (Galiardi) kind of just took a perfect spot. ... It's fun playing with those guys. They're high energy."

McLellan said he had a "hunch" that Sheppard would click with Galiardi and Burish.

"We wanted to distribute some speed and some size out a little bit more," McLellan said. "Just a hunch."

Sheppard nearly scored again later in the period during a delayed penalty after drawing a hold against Colorado defenseman Ryan O'Byrne. Sheppard's shot from close range went just wide.

When the two teams met at HP on Jan. 26, San Jose beat Colorado 4-0 in a game remembered most for Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart's big hit on Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog in the first period. Landeskog missed the next 11 games with a concussion.

Stuart's hit ignited a scrap with O'Byrne, and the question entering Tuesday night's game was whether Colorado would seek further retribution. It soon became clear that Landeskog and his teammates were more interested in trying to get a victory than settling a score.

Colorado played without top-line center Matt Duchene, who missed the game with a groin injury. He leads the team with 17 points.

"It's a tough building to play in," Parenteau said. "Everyone knows it around the League. I think we played well. We had a pretty depleted lineup. Our team fought hard. It was a big point for us. The Sharks came out swinging and we responded well when we fell behind so quickly. That's why we got a point tonight because we stuck with it."

The Sharks played without three regulars Tuesday night -- forwards Ryane Clowe and Tommy Wingels and defenseman Brent Burns. The Sharks placed Burns on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and recalled defenseman Matt Irwin from Worcester of the American Hockey League.

Clowe served the second game of his two-game suspension, stemming from an altercation Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks, and Wingels was out after slamming head-first into the boards late in San Jose's game Saturday against the Dallas Stars.

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