Tyson Jost

The Playoff Buzzer: Pavelski returns for Game 7 to lead Sharks past Avs

4 Comments

Joe Pavelski made his series debut and was a major impact player right out of the gate.

The Avalanche thought they battled back from a 2-0 deficit, but their second goal was taken away because Gabriel Landeskog was ruled as being offside during a line change.

Colorado out shot San Jose 15-2 in the third period, but the Sharks held onto the lead.

San Jose Sharks 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (Sharks win series 4-3)

The Sharks didn’t confirm until nearly the last minute that Joe Pavelski would play, but the captain certainly made it worth the wait. He scored the opening goal and assisted on Tomas Hertl‘s marker to give San Jose a 2-0 lead by 11:35 of the first period. Meanwhile, Nathan MacKinnon left the contest early after crashing into the boards. Everything seemed to be trending towards a clean Sharks victory, but momentum swung to the Avalanche’s side when MacKinnon returned late in the first period and Mikko Rantanen scored with just seven seconds before intermission. Colorado seemed to tie the contest in the second, but the goal was overruled due to an odd offside call on Gabriel Landeskog. To add insult to injury, Joonas Donskoi scored a stunner midway through the second to put the Sharks up 3-1. Tyson Jost put the Avalanche back within one again early in the third period, but San Jose held on despite being out shot 15-2 in the third period.

Three Stars

1. Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks. This one is easy. Not only did Pavelski manage to rejoin the Sharks after suffering a scary injury in Game 7 of Round 1, but he was a huge factor in this game. He had a goal and an assist while logging 19:49 minutes of ice time. Only two Sharks forwards were used more in Game 7.

2. Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks. One of the two forwards who was used more. Hertl recorded 24:01 minutes of ice time, which is incredible for a forward in a game that didn’t go to overtime. No one on the Avalanche — forward or defenseman — matched Hertl in terms of minutes played. A big part of it was Hertl’s work on special teams. He got 4:39 power-play minutes and 2:42 shorthanded minutes. Of course, it wasn’t just how much work Hertl got in. He also contributed a goal and an assist.

3. Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks. His goal proved to be the game-winner. It was his first marker of the playoffs after he scored 14 goals during the regular season. It wasn’t just how important the marker was though, it also was an amazing goal to cap a great sequence for San Jose.

Highlights of the Night
Pavelski’s deflection goal early in the game gave the Sharks an edge early on. The game had so many twists and turns so it might be a stretch to say that this marker defined the game, but it certainly made a big impact.

Factoids

  • The Sharks are the sixth team in NHL history to start their run with two Game 7 victories at home. [TSN’s StatsCentre]
  • This will be Peter DeBoer’s third trip to the Conference Final as a head coach. The other two times he got this far, his team ended up losing in the Stanley Cup Final.
  • The Western Conference Final will be a rematch of the 2016 series between the Sharks and Blues. San Jose won that one in six games.
  • Mikko Rantanen’s playoff run ends with him recording six goals and 14 points in 12 games.

Thursday’s Schedule

Game 1: Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

Pavelski, Sharks stave off scrappy Avalanche in Game 7

14 Comments

Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks will continue their push for a first-ever Stanley Cup victory after eliminating the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7, but the biggest story of San Jose’s 3-2 win was the other Joe: Joe Pavelski.

Pavelski returned to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs a full round after suffering a gnarly, tide-turning injury in Game 7 against Vegas, and this wasn’t just a Willis Reed situation where a hero makes a brief return, pops the crowd, and then just make a minimal actual impact. Instead, Pavelski was brilliant, particularly early on.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

The courageous Sharks captain scored the 1-0 goal on a deft deflection, then fed Tomas Hertl with a beautiful pass to make it 2-0.

A lesser team would have wilted, especially when they saw a player like Nathan MacKinnon leave the ice with what sure looked like a separated shoulder, or something similar and significant. Instead, the Avalanche just kept fighting and fighting; while they’re entering the off-season nonetheless, it’s easy to envision this as the start of something big for Colorado.

Mikko Rantanen made it 2-1 late in the first, giving Colorado life. The second period sent more body blows to the Avalanche, as a would-be 2-2 goal for Colin Wilson was negated by a strange offside/too many men on the ice situation with Gabriel Landeskog; after that, the Sharks made it 3-1 … but Colorado still wouldn’t stop pushing.

The Avalanche sent, well, an avalanche of pucks toward Martin Jones during the third period, generating a 15-2 shots on goal advantage during the final frame. Only Tyson Jost could score on all of those chances, however, as Jones allowed the Sharks to get away with sitting on that lead.

Joonas Donskoi‘s 3-1 goal was rare. It was also the game-winner, and awfully pretty:

Brent Burns ranked among the other non-Pavelski stars for the Sharks in Game 7, generating two primary assists. The Sharks boast more weapons than the Avs – and arguably most, if not every, other team in the NHL – and it showed on nights like these. The Avalanche have plenty to build on, but they fell short of the finish line versus San Jose.

And now, we have the final four locked up, as the Sharks will take on the St. Louis Blues in Round 3. That figures to be a rugged, tightly-matched series, and one that could very well test San Jose in new ways. In other words, it should be a blast.

The Sharks will be glad they have leaders like Joe Pavelski then, as they were delighted to deploy him – finally, somehow – in Game 7 on Wednesday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Sharks hope for Pavelski’s return before Game 7 against Avs

1 Comment

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Captain Joe Pavelski was getting staples put into his bloody head when the San Jose Sharks staged an epic comeback in Game 7 of the opening round against Vegas.

Now that the Sharks have been forced into another ultimate game after missing a chance to eliminate Colorado in an overtime loss on the road, they are hopeful of getting their leader back on the ice for the first time since then.

Perhaps the biggest question heading into Game 7 at the Shark Tank on Wednesday night (9 p.m. EDT, NBCSN) is whether Pavelski will be healthy enough to make a dramatic return against the Avalanche. Coach Peter DeBoer said that will happen as soon as doctors give him the OK.

”I’m not hiding anything,” DeBoer said Tuesday. ”He’s day to day. He’s getting better every day. We’re going to make a decision on game days whether he’ll be available or not.”

The winner of the game advances to play the winner of Tuesday night’s Game 7 between Dallas and St Louis.

Pavelski’s injury happened midway through the third period in Game 7 against Vegas on April 23 with San Jose trailing 3-0. He was cross-checked by Cody Eakin after a faceoff and then bumped by Paul Stastny before falling awkwardly to the ice head first. The impact of Pavelski’s helmet slamming the ice knocked him out briefly and caused him to bleed from his head.

A dazed Pavelski was helped off the ice by his teammates and then had eight staples put in his head to stop the bleeding. While that was going on, his teammates scored four power-play goals during the major penalty to Eakin that even Pavelski acknowledged was not warranted.

San Jose ultimately won the game on Barclay Goodrow‘s overtime goal to advance to the second round. Pavelski was unable even to travel to Colorado for Games 3 and 4 but got back on the ice while his teammates were away last week. He made an emotional appearance at the Shark Tank during the third period of Game 5 to fire up the crowd and traveled to Denver for Game 6 where he took part in the morning skate.

”It still really is day-to-day,” Pavelski said before Game 6. ”Wish I had a set-in-stone answer – go here, do this and be ready. We’re taking everything into play.”

No matter what happens with Pavelski, the Sharks will need better performances from several of their other forwards who have been mostly invisible this series. San Jose was supposed to have the better depth up front but that hasn’t been the case so far.

Joe Thornton and Kevin Labanc have gone five straight games without a point, Evander Kane and Marcus Sorensen haven’t recorded a point for four straight games and the fourth line has generated almost no offense.

Colorado has six forwards with at least two goals this series, including secondary options like J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost, Colin Wilson and Matt Nieto. The Sharks have just three with Couture’s three goals all coming in a Game 3 win, Tomas Hertl‘s two coming in a Game 5 victory and Timo Meier scoring one of his two into an empty net.

Compher scored twice in regulation in Game 6 and assisted on Jost’s goal as well as the Avalanche managed to get the game into overtime despite its top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen being on the ice for all three San Jose goals in regulation.

”They’ve been unbelievable all playoffs, all season,” Compher said of Colorado’s Big Three. ”The depth guys, we’ve got to step up when we can. Guys were stepping up all over the place and that’s why we’re in the spot we are.”

That spot is one win away from Colorado’s first appearance in the conference finals since 2002. Getting there hasn’t been easy. The Avalanche had to knock off the top seed in the West, Calgary, in the first round and has never led in this series with the Sharks taking all the odd-numbered games and Colorado answering after that.

Even the Game 6 win at home proved treacherous with the Avalanche blowing a one-goal lead three times before finally winning on Landeskog’s overtime goal.

”We knew it wasn’t supposed to be easy, nobody said it was going to be,” Landeskog said. ”For us we try to reload. As frustrating as it was to keep losing those leads we tried to reset and go back at it.”

Facing elimination isn’t a new feeling for the Sharks, who won three win-or-go-home games in the first round against Vegas when they overcame a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in franchise history.

This veteran team is playing its third Game 7 at home in the past four years, having beaten Nashville in the second round in 2016 and the Golden Knights two weeks ago.

”Instead of a fear or a nervousness there’s an excitement about them,” DeBoer said. ”We do have guys that have participated in them in the past. Does that count for anything? I don’t know. I’d like to think it does. I do know this. Our guys have a comfort level in big games.”

AP Sports Writer Pat Graham in Denver contributed to this report.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

The Wraparound: Avs have ‘great opportunity’ to punch ticket to Western Conference Final

2 Comments

Are you ready for another Game 7?

As if last night’s clash between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues wasn’t enough, hockey fans everywhere will be spoiled with another winner-take-all game for a spot in the Western Conference Final.

The Colorado Avalanche, who were the clear underdogs heading into this series against the San Jose Sharks, were able to fend off elimination thanks to captain Gabriel Landeskog‘s OT winner in Game 6. Now, they’ll have to find a way to get the job done on the road tonight (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN; Live stream).

The most impressive thing about Colorado’s Game 6 win, is that their top line struggled during regulation, but they found a way to come up big in the biggest moment of the game. Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen were on the ice for all three of San Jose’s goals in regulation.

The reason the Avalanche kept pulling ahead, is because their secondary scoring came through in a big way. It all started with J.T. Compher, who scored two goals and added an assist. Compher picked the perfect time to take his game to another level. Tyson Jost and Alex Kerfoot also had solid performances for their team.

“I mean, their depth guys beat us tonight,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said after Game 6. “We got beat by J.T. Compher, Tyson Jost, their second and third lines. Our depth guys have to be better than their depth guys.”

Can the Avs’ depth players come up big again in Game 7? And can the Sharks find a way to keep Colorado’s top line quiet for 60-plus minutes? A spot in the Western Conference Final might depend on it.

“It’s a great opportunity for us… 60 minutes away from the Western Conference Final,” Landeskog said. “I mean, who would have thought [it] before the season, who would have thought [it] before this series or whatever so, for us, we keep believing, and you’ve just got to instill that doubt in that team on the other side, and at this point, I doubt the last thing they wanted to do was go back and play another one at home in San Jose.”

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

TUESDAY’S SCORES
Blues 2, Stars 1 (2 OT)
The Buzzer has more on Tuesday’s action

PHT’s Round 2 previews
• Round 2 schedule, TV info
• Questions for the final eight teams
• PHT Roundtable
• Avalanche vs. Sharks

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

The Playoff Buzzer: Bruins advance; Avalanche survive

3 Comments
  • The Blue Jackets were able to sweep the Lightning in front of their home fans in Columbus. Now their season is over as they fell in Game 6 against Boston at that same arena. The Bruins move on to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.
  • While the East half of Round 3 is set, the West side is still totally unsettled. The Sharks didn’t fall easily on Monday, but the Avalanche grabbed a gutsy OT win to send this series to Game 7.

Bruins 3, Blue Jackets 0 (Boston wins series 4-2)

Charlie McAvoy only receiving a two-minute minor for his hit on Josh Anderson was a big part of the Game 6 storyline, no doubt. But, really, Tuukka Rask strangled any chance for the Blue Jackets to rally around the anger of not getting a call they believed they deserved. David Krejci managed the lone goal of the first 40 minutes of this one, and Sergei Bobrovsky allowed two quick goals in the third period to sap any last-minute drama. Columbus has some things to build on going forward, even with Bobrovsky and others possibly leaving, but the Bruins get the upper hand.

Avalanche 4, Sharks 3 (Series tied 3-3; Game 7 airs at 9 pm. ET on Wednesday on NBCSN [stream here])

This was a fascinating game. The Avs managed leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2, yet the Sharks just kept fighting back. When Game 6 went to overtime, there was at least a faint feeling that San Jose was going to stun Colorado in its own building. Instead, Gabriel Landeskog scored the overtime game-winner, forcing a Game 7 in this series. Two unsung heroes loomed large in Game 6, and they follow Rask in the three stars below …

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Tuukka Rask

Rask already turned heads with strong work during the Bruins’ Round 2 series against the Blue Jackets, but Game 6 might count as his best performance yet. While Rask enjoyed a little bit of luck from posts hitting his posts, he was still incredibly sharp for Boston, and thus outrageously frustrating for the Blue Jackets. Rask generated a 39-save shutout to close out Columbus, and the occasionally-criticized goalie is cementing his status as a true difference-maker for a Bruins team eyeing a glorious run.

2. J.T. Compher

Heading into Game 6 for Colorado, Compher had one three-point game to his career, yet he scored two goals and one assist at the most crucial time, with the Avalanche facing down elimination. Check these highlights and decide for yourself: is his assist to Tyson Jost to open scoring the best of Compher’s three points, or was it the 3-2 goal where he showed some pretty impressive hands?

That 3-2 goal sure seemed like it would be the game-winner, except an equally unlikely hero forced the issue for San Jose …

3. Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Again, Vlasic can be a “likely” hero for his work in his own end. And, really, Vlasic was his usual, defensive-defenseman-dynamo self against Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen, his most frequent opponents in Game 6. Yes, Landeskog scored an overtime game-winner, but generally speaking, the Sharks did a great job of limiting that dangerous trio’s chances. Vlasic was a big part of that.

Few would have expected Vlasic to be so prolific offensively, though.

Vlasic scored two goals for the Sharks while firing three SOG, blocking four shots, and managing two takeaways in Game 6. Impressive stuff, even if San Jose couldn’t quite close out Colorado.

Oh, by the way, this is only the second two-goal game of Vlasic’s career, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Again, it was a rare night.

Factoids

TUESDAY’S GAME 7

Game 7: Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues (series tied 3-3; 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN [stream here])

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.