San Jose looked to jump back on the winning track Wednesday night in Colorado against the Avalanche. Evgeni Nabokov returned to the nets after tweaking his neck in Phoenix and did not miss his start in Ron Wilson’s successful goalie rotation.
Wilson also dressed two former Avalanche players who had been out of the lineup in Scott Parker and Ville Nieminen. Rob Davison was removed from the injured reserve list to play in his first contest of the season and Mark Smith was placed on the IR thanks to a knee-on-knee collision in Los Angeles that fortunately only resulted in a Charley-Horse.
The home club would strike first just four minutes into the contest on the individual effort of Brett McLean. The Avalanche forward carried the puck along the boards behind the net and kept possession to the other side. When McLean had a chance, he turned and fired, placing the puck up high and short side to beat Nabokov.
The NHL’s number one power play came to the ice for the first time moments later, but Colorado held them at bay. When the advantage was complete, Parker and Nieminen put strong chances on net, but could not beat Jose Theodore.
Team Teal would have two more power play chances in the first, but could not generate much on Theodore and Colorado took their 1-0 lead into the first intermission break.
Colorado earned a quick power play to begin the second, but is was the Sharks who were opportunistic. Curtis Brown jumped on a loose puck to lead a two-on-one rush. The penalty killing expert showed some offensive touch and beat Theodore stick side to even the contest.
The Avalanche had the ice tilted in the direction of Nabokov, but he may have been playing as well has he had all season.
A bout between Rob Davison and Ian Laperriere was clearly won by Davison and that seemed to slow Colorado’s momentum and put some life into the Sharks.
At the end of the first, the Sharks had a scary site when Jonathan Cheechoo was down on the ice and had a Kings player fall on him. Cheechoo was helped to the lockerroom prior to the break, but the intermission update was that is was not a serious injury.
San Jose killed off 1:40 of Colorado power play time to start the third, but then the Avs would take the lead. Colorado forced a neutral zone turnover and with the pick deep in Sharks Territory, Antti Laaksonen dropped into the high slot and one-timed in the go-ahead goal.
With 13:08 left in the final stanza, Steve Bernier tied the game. Captain Patrick Marleau
started the play by beating to Colorado players to a loose puck along the boards and handed it off the “Big Bear”. Bernier skated toward the net and pushed a backhander inside the far post.
Unfortunately, the Sharks could not keep the game even for long. Colorado Captain Joe Sakic came down on a simple two-on-two rush and used his keen wrist shot to regain the lead at 3-2.
San Jose will return to HP Pavilion Saturday night for a 7:30 faceoff with Philadelphia and a limited amount of tickets are available at the HP Pavilion Box Office and via www.ticketmaster.com. The game can be viewed on FSN Bay Area and heard on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.