All four goals on Monday night were scored on the power play by Western Conference All-Stars (Cheechoo, Marleau, Sakic, Thornton) as San Jose came out on top Monday night, downing the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 at HP Pavilion.
Evgeni Nabokov got the call in net for the Sharks and stopped 26 of 27 shots, while Peter Budaj manned the nets for the visiting Avalanche was equally impressive despite allowing three goals.
San Jose was outshooting Colorado 6-2 when Ryane Clowe
absolutely destroyed Karlis Skrastins attempting to make an outlet pass. Ian Laperriere took exception to the clean hit and attempted to start something with Clowe. The rugged winger from Newfoundland, who had been on a terror offensively as of late, traded a few punches before taking his Colorado counterpart to the ice. The scrap seemed to jump start the Sharks.
Laperriere was given the extra two minutes and the League’s number one power play quickly showed their strength. Controlling the zone for most of the advantage, Team Teal struck on a Jonathan Cheechoo rebound chance. Joe Thornton
set up on the half boards and dished the puck to Patrick Marleau
. The Captain drove to the net and jammed the puck at Budaj’s pads. The rebound squirted out to the slot where Cheechoo one-timed it past Budaj, running his point streak to seven games. It was his fourth goal in the last seven games.
When Kyle Cumiskey put San Jose on a second power play, San Jose aced the exam again. This time though it was Cheechoo setting up Marleau. Again Thornton began the play at the half boards dishing this time to Christian Ehrhoff. The blueliner opened up a shooting lane with a puck fake, then rifled a perfect tip shot on net. Cheechoo got his stick on it and the puck dropped straight down and sat in the crease. Marleau’s speedy reflexes allowed him to hammer the puck home for the early two-goal lead.
If not for stellar play by Budaj in the Avalanche net, the 2-0 deficit could have been significantly greater as Thornton, Clowe, Mark Bell and Milan Michalek all tested the Slovak netminder, but could not add to the lead. As the squads headed to the first intermission, Team Teal was outshooting Colorado 21-10 through 20 minutes of action.
San Jose continued the pressure in the second, but could not add to their lead halfway through the affair. When Colorado looked to steal momentum, Nabokov would have none of it. First he turned away an Avalanche power play when Mark Smith was playing without a stick and there was a loose puck in front. Then Nabokov responded with the play of the game when he turned away Wojtek Wolski with a right leg pad save.
With about four minutes left in the second, Colorado exerted their most extended pressure in the offensive zone, but Nabokov continued to answer them at every turn.
As the period wound down, San Jose had not added to their lead, but Colorado now had 20 less minutes to cut close the gap.
The visiting Avs came out with a strong start to the third, as would be expected for the team down two goals, but Nabokov and the Sharks weathered the early storm. However, with 13 left in regulation, a Mark Smith holding the stick penalty put Colorado on the power play. The advantage did not last long as Joe Sakic scored just two seconds in. Paul Stastny pulled the faceoff back to the Avalanche leader and he perfectly placed his shot in the upper corner.
Colorado was within one, but that would quickly change. When San Jose went on a power play of their own, Thornton pushed the lead back to two. Marleau started the play by throwing a pass to Carle. The rookie blueliner sent it back through the crease to Thornton in the faceoff circle. Before Budaj could slide over, Thornton found the back of the net for the 3-1 lead.
San Jose continued to drive for goal number four as the game wound down to the five minute mark. Pavelski came close to adding the insurance tally with a shot alone in the slot, but Budaj knocked it to the side.
In the closing seconds, the Avalanche struggled to get Budaj off the ice in lieu of the extra attacker. Once they did, they spent the final 50 seconds in the Sharks zone, but the 3-1 Sharks lead was insurmountable as Team Teal won by that same margin.