SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Sharks caught up to the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1, but the visitors didn’t seem shaken.
There’s cause for concern, sure, but not overreaction after a 5-2 loss Friday night put them in a 1-0 hole for a second time this postseason.
“We’re so excited to be in this position. We don’t want to squander it,” defenseman Tyson Barrie said. “We’ll get prepared and focused for a big Game 2.”
The Avalanche looked every bit the fresher team at first, but the opener of their long-awaited, second-round playoff series against the Sharks eventually soured.
Colorado couldn’t build on two one-goal leads and San Jose scored three unanswered in the second period.
“They kind of flipped the script on us,” coach Jared Bednar said.
The Sharks got their first lead with 3:58 left in the second period. Kevin Labanc used Mikko Rantanen as his prop, dropping it through his legs, zooming around him and beating Philipp Grubauer from the top of the circle.
Brent Burns got a piece of a Marcus Sorensen shot to make it 4-2 with a minute left in the second period. The Avalanche had their chances down the stretch, but not good or often enough.
Bednar said there were “enough good things” to look at and build off of, but that 10-minute stretch in the second featured little of what has made the Avalanche successful.
“Quick plays,” he said of the Sharks’ first two goals. “You hate to see them happen, but mistakes are going to be made. It’s the 10 minutes after that I didn’t like, at the end of the second. We lost too many races. .... We just weren’t committed enough to stay with it in that 10-minute span.”
Colorado flew out of the tunnel and took its first lead just 2:10 into the series when goaltender Martin Jones gifted a rebound. Justin Braun missed a clearing attempt and Gabriel Bourque took over, sending a shot past Jones’ right skate.
Cale Makar, who earned the right to keep his spot in the lineup even as Sam Girard returned from a shoulder injury - leaving Patrik Nemeth a healthy scratch - earned the primary assist on the play.
Jones kept the Avalanche from running away with it with several gems among his 12 first-period saves. Gustav Nyquist was patient with a Burns rebound, cruising through the crease and sending it over a sprawled Grubauer to tie it before the end of the first.
On a second-period power play, Rantanen hit Colin Wilson from the point and Wilson angled it past Jones to make it 2-1.
The Avalanche had a generous span with which to extend the lead, drawing a double-minor for high sticking. But the Sharks came up with a confident kill.
Avs forward Gabriel Landeskog made no apologies for the power play, which created chances.
“We’re going to have to execute better next time, but I feel good about where our power play’s at,” he said.
The crowd surged to its feet as San Jose took off on a 2-on-1. Sorensen carried it in and Grubauer got the chance to square up to Joe Thornton, but the 39-year-old appeared to beat him cleanly.
The Avalanche had a week off after dispatching the Calgary Flames in five games, waiting for three other sets of teams to duke it out in seven, including the Sharks.
“We’ve got to find a way to ramp up that physical edge that we had, and that skating edge that we had,” Bednar said. “After a week off, we had some guys that just weren’t as good as they were last week.”