Avalanche lose to Sharks, can’t capitalize on chance to secure Central Division

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The Colorado Avalanche went into San Jose on Friday, with a chance to lock up the Central Division with only a win.

The host Sharks had other ideas, defeating the Avalanche 5-1 thanks to Martin Havlat’s natural hat trick in the third period. It was close, a one-goal hockey game heading into the final 20 minutes, before Havlat’s offensive outburst, which gave him his first goals since March 25.

Reto Berra started in goal for the Avalanche, but was pulled just 10:11 into the game after allowing two goals on five shots.

“The only reason I pulled him was just to change the momentum of the game. I thought that was the right decision at that time. Obviously right now, he’s not playing with the confidence that he probably normally has,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy told The Denver Post.

The loss keeps the Avalanche tied with the Blues atop the Central Division. Both teams lost in their respective games Friday, with each stuck on 111 points with one game remaining.

The Avalanche finish out the season on Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. There’s still a chance Colorado can come out of the regular season as the top seed in the West, however the Ducks, at 112 points, also have a game in hand.

Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie also left the game with an upper-body injury after he found himself on the receiving end of a massive open-ice Jason Demers body check in the first period.

San Jose defenseman Scott Hannan also left due to injury.