SAN JOSE, Calif. • For most of the first period and the first eight minutes of the second, the Avalanche were stymied by the Sharks. But one good shift shook everything up.
Though simplicity is encouraged, complicated is fine if it works, and Tyson Barrie shuffled and spun at the point until he found a shot he liked. Gabriel Landeskog got it past Martin Jones to tie the score at 1.
The Avalanche took it from there and won 4-3 on Sunday, sending the series back to Denver tied after two games.
The process reversed itself on the Avs’ second goal 8:10 later. Landeskog’s attempt flew off Jones’ pads and back to Barrie, who chipped it in.
It looked easy, but of course it wasn’t.
“It was wobbling a little bit so I was just trying to make some contact with it,” Barrie, who finished with three points, said.
The Sharks bench wanted an icing call right before the goal. Coach Jared Bednar said after the game he saw it as consistent officiating, as there was no call on a similar play in Game 1.
Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen earned the secondary assists on each of the goals to extend their point streaks to six games.
More importantly, the first-period struggles had been shrugged off.
“We competed hard in battles, but we weren’t great with the puck,” Bednar said. “We were doing a decent job of getting out of our zone, but in the neutral zone, we got stubborn with it.
“We didn’t put pucks in behind their defense and go to work. … In the second period, that changed.”
Jones’ net looked like a campfire as the Sharks pitched in behind him midway through the third period, trying to keep the puck out and avoid a two-goal deficit. But Matt Nieto’s stick stoked the blaze, as he scored his third of the postseason.
Brent Burns scored twice in the third period, sandwiching a MacKinnon empty-netter, for the final score. With an earlier assist, Burns has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in the series.
Bednar said, as evidenced in the third period, the Avalanche can do everything right and still not be able to stop the elite defenseman.
“He’s going to make an impact,” Bednar said of Burns. “We’re trying to minimize that impact on a nightly basis.”
On the first goal, Evander Kane planted himself in front of Philipp Grubauer (31 saves) and sent a rebound behind him to make it 1-0. The deficit felt substantial for a sluggish team, but Rantenen said the Avs reminded themselves it was only a goal.
“We started to find our game, play more in the (offensive) zone and wear them down,” he said.
The series now shifts to Denver for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of success here,” Barrie said of SAP Center, where the Avs hadn’t won since 2015. “We wanted to come in here and at least come home with a split, and we did that, and now we go back to the Pepsi Center, where we’re definitely confident and comfortable.”
Note: A pair of 20-year-old defensemen in Sam Girard and Cale Makar were paired together to start. Bednar said that decision can be traced to Girard looking “rusty” after returning from injury, and Makar playing well. He also wanted to pair Ian Cole and Erik Johnson after a good Calgary series.