SAN JOSE, Calif. – Logan Couture and Dwight Helminen gave San Jose its own version of youth and vigour. As a result, the Sharks took their first advantage of their playoff series with the Colorado Avalanche.
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 28 shots to record his seventh career playoff shutout, Couture scored twice and the Sharks beat the Avalanche 5-0 Thursday to take a 3-2 edge in their Western Conference series.
“Guys like Logan have had an impact on our playoffs thus far and they were rewarded with some goals,” Sharks’ coach Todd McLellan said. “They need to continue to bring that energy. The young guys did play with a lot of discipline and really found a way to contribute.”
Couture and Helminen each scored their first career playoff goals.
“I think every kid dreams of scoring an overtime goal to win the game,” said an elated Couture. “Scoring a couple of goals like that is just as nice. Hopefully it will be a long journey.”
Helminen was a little more subdued about his goal.
“It’s a matter of sticking with it,” the second-year player said. “You don’t want to get frustrated.”
Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Helminen also scored for the Sharks, who finally found a way to get through Craig Anderson. The Colorado netminder still made 29 saves on 33 shots before he was replaced by Peter Budaj at 11:05 of the third period.
“They won, we lost. Any time you lose is a tough night,” Anderson said. “Bottom line we need to do better. As a goalie you can only do so much. I have to find a way to stop the puck.”
Tempers flared as San Jose scored three times in the second period in the biggest offensive outburst by either team in the first round.
Neither team had held a lead of more than one goal until the Sharks went up 2-0.
This time it was all Nabokov, who made his 70th playoff appearance. He stretched every which way to keep the Avalanche off the scoreboard. Colorado also hit the post twice during the game.
Just when it appeared Anderson was still on his game, the Sharks beat him three times in the second period – two from unlikely sources.
“We got caught on some long shifts in our own end,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. “We were in good shape going into the second period. I think we got what we deserved tonight. I don’t think we played well enough to win.”
Couture redirected Dany Heatley’s shot past Anderson, who took the Sharks’ best shots in the first 28 minutes. Couture and Heatley were paired in the third period of Tuesday’s overtime win in Colorado and began the game together. Marleau, who picked up an assist on the goal, was still on the ice.
“I was playing with two very special players,” Couture said. “Dany is unbelievable. He makes a lot of things happen.”
Pavelski scored his third goal of the playoffs midway through the period, firing a shot from the point past a diving Anderson, who had slipped after trying to defend against Dan Boyle on the right side.
“We finally scored a few on the power play but you have to expect a one-goal game against these guys,” Pavelski said. “To score a few more was good.”
Helminen, who also scored his first, knocked in a rebound on Scott Nichol’s took from the point. It appeared Nichol, seeing a 3-on-2 edge, purposely stopped and waited for his forwards to sprint ahead before shooting.
“He read the play, pulled up and the defence stepped up on him,” Helminen said. “That let me and Jamie (McGinn) to use our speed to get to the net.”
Scott Hannan made sure the Avalanche went into the second intermission with some fire as he skated into the middle of a confrontation behind the Sharks’ net and took on Jamie McGinn, drawing a double-minor.
It was instigated when Cody McLeod shoved Doug Murray into Nabokov, who took a stick to the mask. It was clearly a response to Devin Setoguchi’s uncontrolled rush into Anderson earlier in the period.
McLeod eventually drew a major for charging into McGinn with 9 minutes remaining.
Couture scored his second goal with 10:37 remaining, also a rebound on a shot from Ryane Clowe. Marleau scored on a power play 4 minutes later to make it 5-0.
NOTES: Colorado C Kevin Porter was back in the lineup wafter missing two games with an upper body injury. … The Sharks outshot the Avalanche 12-2 in the first period and have a 60-44 edge in the opening period. … A T-shirt promotion gave the Arena an orange look rather than the traditional teal.