With ten minutes to go in the third period, both referees were standing next to the penalty boxes, reviewing a potential goal-against the Colorado Avalanche, that would end up not counting, due to a high stick. This was a key moment in the game for the Avs, as they came back from a 3-1 deficit, to steal a 4-3 win in overtime against the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks had everything going right for them, as they scored 48 seconds into the game, which put the Avs on their heels right from the get-go. From then on, the Sharks spent the majority of the time in the Avs zone, and threw everything they had at goalie Peter Budaj.
While the Avs commited four penalties in the first period (Brandon Yip had committed a double minor for high-sticking), the Colorado overcame a barrage of shots to keep one of the better power-play units in the NHL off the scoreboard.
On the fourth Sharks power play of the first period, the Avs were aggressive on the puck, and made Dan Boyle commit a hooking penalty, ending the Sharks power-play. Once Kevin Porter was out of the penalty-box, the Avs had the man advantage and rookie Kevin Shattenkirk scored his first career NHL goal, to tie the game at 1-1.
The Avs couldn’t have been too disappointed going into the dressing room after the first period even since the Sharks had controlled most of the play. That sentiment, however, changed when Boyle scored a minute and nine seconds in the second period. From there on it continued to be the Sharks show and they sustained pressure in the Avs zone.
San Jose’s Mike Moore scored his first NHL goal when he sent a shot from the point past Budaj. The Avs goalie was screened on the play and never saw Moore’s shot until it was already behind him.
With the game at 3-1, it seemed as if the Sharks were going to come out in the third, and seal the deal.
“We came in after the second period, and obviously we didn’t play the first two periods how we wanted to,” stated Avs defenseman John-Michael Liles. “We didn’t play to our identity, to Avalanche hockey. Bottom line is we came in here, we said that we get back to our game plan, hopefully get a goal, and a lot of things can happen.”
With a 28 to 12 shot advantage, the Sharks were in full control of the game, and ready to win a game away from the Shark Tank, after dropping their last three on the road.
Then it seemed like all was doomed when the puck went into the Avs net, but yet there was still a glimpse of hope. The referee standing behind the net initially signaled high-stick, and immediately went towards the box for a review. After several minutes of waiting for the confirmation that it was a no-goal, the Avs were still in the game. The no-goal was a turning point for the Avs who suddenly gained momentum and started spending a lot of time in the Sharks zone.
Soon after this, Chris Stewart scored his team leading 11th goal, to bring the Avs to within one.
“We’re cycling in our end for 30 seconds there, and then we got to regroup there,” affirmed Stewart. “Johnny fed me within the neutral-zone, and I just tried to attack with speed. I tried to shoot low-blocker and it went in going five-hole: no complaints.”
This goal gave the Avs a lot more confidence, and this was apparent as they continued to drive the puck toward the opposing net.
With less than four minutes to go in the game, Paul Stastny tied the game with a shot that went over Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki’s shoulder. Niittymaki didn’t have a chance as he was screened in front by two Sharks players, and Avs Captain Adam Foote.
The Sharks were stunned, and did their best to try and get a quick goal before the end of the game, but Budaj stayed strong in net, and made the necessary saves to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, the Avs managed most of the play, and at the 2:07 mark, Porter got behind the Sharks defense and slipped the puck past Niittymaki. The Avs benched emptied and soon Porter was surrounded by Avs players to celebrate the come-back victory.
With that goal, the Avs had come-back to steal a victory that looked to be out of reach, and stun a team that appeared to have their first road win in four tries.
“We’re showing when we play on our toes, we’re tough to contain. We can attack from all angles, we’re tough to contain, and we’re hard to play against.” Stated Stewart.
The Avs now have 21 points, and are only two points behind the Vancouver Canucks, for first place in the Northwest Division.
“It was big,” said Avs forward Paul Stastny. “Sometimes you’re not going to have the best game, but you kind of find a way to win. Whether that is a turning point part of the season, you can look at it there.”