There was a bit of disbelief in the Sharks lockerroom following their stunning 1-0 loss to Colorado Sunday night. San Jose had done everything seemingly possible to topple the Avalanche in Game 3. The offensive effort was there with more than fifty shots for a second consecutive game. The defensive effort was there with 60 minutes of shutout hockey. And the Sharks seemed to have worn down the Avalanche.
Yet, the hockey gods were still smiling on Colorado as for a third straight game the Avalanche were the beneficiaries of a goal that went off a Sharks defensemen. In Game 1, a Colorado centering pass through the crease went in off Rob Blake to give Colorado the win in the game’s final minute. In Game 2, if not for a quirky first goal that went off Marc-Edouard Vlasic
’s face, the Sharks would have had enough goals to win in regulation.
Game 3 may have been the cruelest break of all though as the winning tally game off a play from Dan Boyle
in his own zone. With pressure on him, Boyle went to move the puck behind Evgeni Nabokov’s crease and, in a cruel twist of fate, it appeared to have its direction altered by Ryan O’Reilly and found its way behind Nabokov who was in the best position he could be.
“It is what it is,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We’ve been beat by some bad bounces in the series, but I expect our will and character to come through and overcome it. I’m quite confident our team will be able to overcome it and we won’t have to do much about it.”
Nabokov has the best view of the crazy scenario.
“Actually I was too focused,” said Nabokov on how the play unfolded. “I was watching the puck and he hit the puck and it was supposed to go around (the boards). My eyes went around and all of a sudden, it hits the shaft (of O’Reilly) and goes in. I don’t know where it went to be honest. Somewhere between the pads and the post.”
Boyle understandably was unhappy with the situation when he came out to face the media.
“Honestly, I really don’t know what happened,” said Boyle. “That is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a player, putting it in your own net. I was trying to go hard around I don’t know if it hit a stick or what. That’s pretty much the worst thing that can happen.”
Boyle’s teammates were sympathetic to the situation and will help him move on.
“Tell him to forget about it,” said Vlasic about what he will tell Boyle. “It’s in the past. It’s unfortunate, but he’s one of our best players and he’s got to forget about it. It’s not his fault. Nobody in the room blames him. We could have gotten it done on the power play. We could have gotten it done five-on-five. We just fell short as a team and we will bounce back in Game 4.”
“It’s a crazy goal and there are all kinds of turns,” said Pavelski. “There are going to be times throughout the playoffs where it won’t go our way.”
“Those type of plays, you have no recipe for,” said Nabokov. “It happens, it was like their second goal the first game. That happens. We have to battle through it and overcome it.”
“Dany is going to be fine,” said McLellan. “Nabby is going to be fine. It’s not like they are playing in their first playoff game. Danny Boyle has won a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal. He’s an elite player.”
The Sharks know the breaks will eventually start going their way if they keep playing at their current pace.
“We started using our size and strength down low and we need to continue that,” said Blake. “We need to improve by putting the puck in the net.”
“We can’t change what happened, but we can be proud of ourselves for the way we played,” said Nabokov. “I think the guys laid out there 100 percent and played hard.”
They could use a little luck themselves on the power play which controlled the zone, but couldn’t find the important winner.
“We had some chances with our power play down the stretch,” said Blake. “Especially in the last five to six minutes when we had two power plays and we need to score on (them).”
“I thought we played well,” said Vlasic. “I thought it was our best game out of the three. It’s disappointing when you work that hard and come up short, but a loss is a loss. We’ll come back the same way in Game 4.”
“There wasn’t much we didn’t do well,” said McLellan. “I liked the effort and we picked it up where we left off in the last game when we won in overtime. I told you after that game that if we would have lost I would have been happy with how we played. The thing that happens tonight is you have to win the game. That’s ultimately what’s on the line. We’ll overcome and recover.”
It will be difficult until they find until they fall asleep tonight, but the Sharks will have to put this game behind them just like they did in Game 1.
“It’s going to have to be,” said Boyle about moving on. “We’re going to need to be strong. I’m going to need to be strong and get over it.”
“We’ll go back in a couple nights and do the same thing (like after Game 1),” said Blake.
“The guys will respond well from this,” said Vlasic. “We want to win and tonight we gave it a good effort. The guys will take care of themselves and we’ll be ready on Tuesday.”
“If we continue to play that way, we’ll get rewarded,” said Nabokov.
That San Jose put up in excess of 50 shots and still lost is a testament to Colorado Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson.
“He played a heck of a game and made his saves when he needed to,” said Pavelski.
“Sometimes you have to tip your hat to Anderson,” said Nabokov. “He played really well and kept them in there.”
Dany Heatley was a scratch for the game due to an unspecified injury, but there is hope for Tuesday.
“Dany is day-to-day, we anticipate having him back in Game 4,” said McLellan.
There have been three games in the series and all three have been tied after 59 minutes of regulation.
Game 4 will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday and will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.