Deen’s List: Top line struggles at San Jose

May 5, 2021; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose Sharks left wing Rudolfs Balcers (92) and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (8) fight for control of the puck during the second period at the SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

This one quickly took a turn for the worse.

The Avalanche had built a two-goal lead in the second period before suddenly breaking down defensively before the intermission to let San Jose back in the game on Wednesday.

The Sharks scored late and added two in the third period for a 3-2 come-from-behind victory to stop the Avs from defeating them in four consecutive games.

Colorado missed a massive opportunity to gain two points in the tight West Division standings. But what was most concerning was the top line seemingly looking fatigued and out of sorts.

The Deen’s List:

The big five struggled

The top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen and top-pair defensemen Cale Makar and Devon Toews did not have their best showing. Far from it.

Each was a minus-2 in a game where San Jose scored twice at even strength. To make things worse, that unit was on the ice when Landeskog was called for hooking in the third, setting up the power play where Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson scored the game-winning goal.

Avs coach Jared Bednar said they looked tired. Their commitment to checking was not there and it was apparent as the third period went on that they just didn’t have it on Wednesday.

And that’s okay. But bring it Monday at Vegas.

West Division playoffs

We’re just 10 days away from the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. We know the Avs are in and we know their first-round matchup is going to be tough. We just don’t know who they’re playing.

The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues are the two likely candidates with an outside shot at Vegas.

Whether it’s Minnesota or St. Louis, it’s not going to be easy. The Wild have been a pleasant surprise, led by 24-year-old rookie Kirill Kaprizov, who has reinvigorated a team that has ached for exciting offensive star power since the days of Marian Gaborik.

And the Blues? They’re led by Ryan O’Reilly — a former Stanley Cup champion, Conn Smythe Trophy winner and Avalanche centerman.

Newhook’s debut

Donning jersey No. 18, Alex Newhook, Colorado’s 16th overall pick in the 2019 draft, made his NHL debut.

The rookie skated a lengthy rookie lap on his own before his team joined him on the ice. Newhook, 20, centered the second line between veterans Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky. He had one shot and was plus-1 in 13:20.

Streak snappers

Three things in life are certain: Death, taxes, and another insane MacKinnon streak coming to an end.

The Sharks snapped two quality streaks MacKinnon was riding in the first of four meetings last Friday. MacKinnon saw his 15-game point streak and 264-game shot streak both come to an end at Ball Arena. This time, the Sharks kept MacKinnon off the board in their building to put an end to his 17-game road point streak.

There is a fourth certainty in life, actually: MacKinnon starting a new streak.

Look out, L.A.

Respect for Marleau

We’ve seen a lot of this in the NHL lately. A team sticks around to individually shake the hand of an opposing player.

The Blues did it Wednesday with former captain and current Ducks forward David Backes. He was playing his last game in St. Louis as he’s set to retire at the conclusion of Anaheim’s season.

Despite the upsetting loss, the Avs, led by Landeskog, stayed on the ice to shake the hand of Patrick Marleau.

Marleau broke the NHL record for regular-season games two weeks ago, passing the legendary Gordie Howe. He appeared in his 1,776th game Wednesday and potentially the last one he’ll ever play against the Avs.

Marleau started his career before multiple Avalanche players were born. Landeskog was 5.

I’m all for this post-game handshake line trend. It’s all class.

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