SAN JOSE, Calif.--Nothing comes easily to the San Jose Sharks in February, but they still managed to skate away with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche at HP Pavilion on Tuesday night.
After coming within 3:16 of a regulation win Tuesday night, San Jose had to rely on shootout goals by Michal Handzus and Patrick Marleau to earn the two points that have been so elusive this month. Goalie Antti Niemi allowed one to PA Parenteau, but stopped shots by Milan Hejduk, Gabriel Landeskog and John Mitchell.
San Jose goals in regulation by Logan Couture and TJ Galiardi were matched by Colorado's Chuck Kobasew and Mark Olver as the Sharks came away with only their second February victory in 11 tries.
The Sharks were very aware that their 1-4-1 trip had dropped them below the cutoff point for playoff teams, and that things had reached the point where HP Pavilion might not exactly be home, sweet, home.
"Being at home doesn't guarantee anything," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "The crowds are probably just as anxious as we are and not overly thrilled about what's going on."
That crowd did get something to cheer about only 25 seconds into the game.
On the game's first shift, Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick's clearing attempt went off Marty Havlat's skate and right to Joe Thornton. He found Couture coming through the slot and he netted his seventh goal of the season--and first in nine games.
But the Avalanche got that one back at 12:13 of the first when the Sharks struggled to clear the puck out of their own zone. A rebound of Colorado defenseman Jan Hejda's shot from the point ended up in Jason Demers' skates and before he could do anything, Kobasew punched it into the net past Niemi.
San Jose finally got the secondary scoring it's been looking for all season to take a 2-1 lead at 2:55 of the second period.
James Sheppard did most of the work, taking the puck from behind the Colorado net and sending a nifty backhand pass into the crease, where Galiardi converted it for his first goal of the season and first against his former team.
The Sharks held the Avalanche off for most of the third period, but a shot by Hejda that caromed off the back boards and poked into the net by Olver and Colorado made it a 2-2 game at 16:44.
A high-sticking penalty to Avalanche forward Jamie McGinn gave San Jose a power play for the final 1:02 of regulation and carried into the overtime period.
Thornton came close to ending the game 59 seconds into the extra period, but Varlamov robbed him with a flash of the glove.
-- Tuesday night was the first meeting between the teams since a hit by Brad Stuart gave Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog a concussion that caused him to miss 11 games.
Before the game, Landeskog dismissed talk that there might be any payback.
"I don't know," he said. "I think as a hockey team we've moved on." Landeskog said he harbored no hard feelings toward Stuart.
"I don't have any grief against Brad Stuart," said Landeskog, adding that later in the game Stuart apologized to him and said he "had no intention of hurting me. But I am excited to get out there and show them what I can do and show them that I can take that."
The hit and its aftermath late in the first period propelled the Sharks to a 4-0 victory Jan. 26. Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne went after Stuart, earned 19 minutes in penalties. The Sharks scored their first two goals on the power plays that followed.
Stuart said he wasn't worried about any old scores being settled, and said he thought any scores had been settled when O'Byrne came after him.
"If they're worried about it, fine," he said of the Avalanche. "I'm not worried about it at all."
Then Stuart added: "Outside of the Avalanche organization, I was one of the happier guys to see him back. I didn't like seeing the fact he wasn't playing. To see him back is great, but other than that, we've got to focus on what we do."
--The game was the second and final one that Ryane Clowe had to miss after being suspended for an altercation late in Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
There was speculation Clowe could receive an automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to start an altercation, but the NHL agreed with the San Jose explanation that Clowe was coming on the ice to replace Joe Pavelski.
"Some people who suggested that don't know what went on and probably were just guessing," Clowe said Tuesday morning. "As a player, you hope for nothing, but I've only got one more game. I'll miss tonight and I don't like that, but at least I'll be back Thursday."
--The Sharks were without two other regulars Tuesday night as defenseman Brent Burns was placed on injured reserve with a left leg injury and Tommy Wingels was kept off the ice with an undisclosed injury.
Matt Irwin was called up from Worcester to replace Burns, but did not play against Colorado. Sharks coach Todd McLellan noted before the game that Irwin had played three games in three nights with Worcester last weekend, then had to fly cross-country on Monday.
TJ Galiardi, who was scratched two of the three previous games, took Wingels spot in the lineup.
--The game was McGinn's third in San Jose since being traded from the Sharks to Colorado a year ago. McGinn has found success with the Avalanche while the players San Jose got in return, Galiardi and Daniel Winnik, have either struggled or departed.
Couching his words carefully, McGinn said the trade has turned out to be very good for him.
"I loved it in San Jose. I loved all the guys and still keep in touch with a lot of them," said McGinn, who has three goals and 11 points in 17 games this season. "Personally, it's the best thing that's happened to me."
--Colorado was without its top scorer as center Matt Duchene was kept out of the lineup with a groin injury.
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