On Friday night, Colorado Avalanche took to the road to face the Pacific Division powerhouse, San Jose Sharks and lost 4-3.
San Jose got on the board twice before the Avalanche found the back of the net. In a valiant effort from Colorado, fighting their way back from two-goal deficits three different times, it ended up being too little, too late. San Jose outlasted Colorado, keeping the Avalanche outside of the playoffs, looking in.
What did we learn from tonight’s game?
1. At times, Colorado showed they can play with the best in the West. If anything, tonight shows that when they give it their all, Colorado was handing it to San Jose. In the last six minutes of the game, the Avalanche controlled the majority of the puck possession, while they dominated in shots. In the final minutes, the “big line” returned to their former glory and showed the Sharks why they were, at one point, the best line in the NHL. However, the effort wasn’t there for the entire game and the Sharks took advantage, extending the lead just enough that Colorado couldn’t crawl out of the hole.
2. Ian Cole and partner Nikita Zadorov looked strong in Cole’s return to the lineup. Cole not only brought back his defensive ability to the Avalanche on Friday night, but he showed he can be a threat in the offensive zone as well. Cole pressed deep into the San Jose zone as a forechecker, forcing a turnover. Eventually, the puck found its way to Zadorov who buried Colorado’s first goal of the evening. Cole finished with three blocked shots and assist on the night.
3. Special teams didn’t look horrific, despite the recent struggles. Colorado went 1-for-2 on the powerplay against San Jose, as Mikko Rantanen found the back of the net on the second man-up advantage of the night for the Avalanche. Not only did they score, but they were moving the puck very well and getting considerable pressure on both extra-man opportunities. Colorado’s penalty kill also looked decent against a very good Sharks power play which is just over 25 percent successful on the season. Colorado went 1-for-3 on the man down.
4. Avalanche continue to struggle to win in the SAP Center. Coming into Friday night’s game, Colorado was 1-16-0 when traveling to San Jose to take on the Sharks. San Jose has had Colorado’s number when in the SAP Center, and that continued Friday night.
5. Playoffs are still within reach for Colorado. Despite the loss, Colorado is still the one point out from the playoffs with 68 points, chasing Minnesota who also has 68 and Dallas who had 69 points. Minnesota takes on a scorching hot Calgary Flames team tomorrow, and Dallas faces the streaking St. Louis Blues, who are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the Avalanche head to Anaheim to take on the sliding Ducks, in a very winnable game.
Colorado’s next matchup against the Anaheim Ducks is set for 2:00 p.m. MT from the Honda Center, Saturday.