SAN JOSE-Given the way things have been going for the San Jose Sharks, it’s hard to overstate just how important Joe Pavelski’s tying goal was against Colorado on Monday night.
Pavelski, who has been a clutch goal scorer throughout his career earning the nickname “The Big Pavelski”, scored with 20 seconds remaining to tie the score at four a piece. The goal came on the heels of two Colorado goals just 12 seconds apart to take the Avalanche from down one to up one with less than two minutes remaining.
At that point it was just more of the same for the Sharks who have been treading water the last two weeks. After completing a six game win streak from Nov. 21 through Dec. 3, San Jose had since gone just 3-5-1 heading into the final game before the Christmas break.
During that stretch San Jose has failed to hold on to numerous multi-goal leads and their win Saturday against Dallas was far from pretty. The Sharks allowed a whopping 48 shots on goal, and were down 2-0 to the Stars before managing to tie the game and win in a shootout.
Against the Avalanche however, the Sharks were dominating through 40 minutes in terms of possession. They had out-shot attempted Colorado 62-34 at that point but held just a slim 3-2 advantage.
While they weren’t terrible in the third, the Sharks didn’t come out with the same energy that saw them control the second period and subsequently left the door open for the Aves. Back-to-back goals by Erik Johnson and (who would have guessed) former Shark Jamie McGinn gave Colorado the lead.
Had Pavelski not scored, the Sharks would be heading into the Christmas holiday on a 3-6-1 stretch. They may be a veteran group that likes to claim to be even keeled but a loss like that can be a tough pill to swallow. Considering their recent struggles to hold leads, who knows how that loss would affect the room.
I tried to ask Sharks head coach Todd McLellan if it were possible to overstate how big Pavelski’s goal was but he wouldn’t go in the direction I was hoping.
“They’re all big” commented the coach. “Without Burnzie getting us going, without a couple of the other goals, Matt Irwin, the power-play, were not even talking about Pavs’ goal. So they’re all important. Pavs has been a real clutch player over the past two weeks for us. He’s kind of the go-to guy right now. He seems to be getting it done and he did it again tonight.”
With the goal and the shootout win, a 4-5-1 record doesn’t look too bad, especially with back-to-back wins heading into the break. When you factor in the Tomas Hertl injury with the team struggles, you could say there had been a dark cloud hovering over this team.
Even though he’s remained effective, Logan Couture has been in a goal scoring drought, Marty Havlat is once again in and out of the lineup, Brent Burns recently went eight games with no goals and just one assist, and Antti Niemi has struggled between the pipes.
But in spite of all that, Pavelski turned a near brutal collapse into a big, big, two points in the ever competitive Pacific Division. For whatever reason nobody but the Sharks can seem to beat the Anaheim Ducks, whom along with the LA Kings and Vancouver Canucks have all won at least eight of their past 10 games.
The 5-4 shootout victory keeps San Jose entrenched in third place in the division, up two points on fourth place Vancouver (with two games in hand) and just two points back of second place LA (with one game in hand) . Division leading Anaheim is up seven points on the Sharks but San Jose holds two games in hand there as well.
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