SAN JOSE, Calif. – San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan refused to dwell on any negatives that came out of a wild finish.
Joe Pavelski scored with just under 20 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau tallied in the shootout, lifting the San Jose Sharks to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night.
“Pav 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,” McLelland said. “He did it again tonight for us. We’re happy for him and for us.”
Erik Johnson and Jamie McGinn scored goals 12 seconds apart in the final two minutes to put the Avalanche ahead.
Asked about Niemi giving up the two quick goals, McLellan responded, “You know what, it’s Christmas. Let’s all go home and enjoy it, and I’ll answer those questions when we come back.”
Johnson’s extra-man goal slipped under the left shoulder of Sharks goalie Antti Niemi to knot things, and McGinn’s goal also came with an extra skater as he beat Niemi to the stick side.
“It was a high to tie it, a high to go ahead and then a crashing low when they tied it,” Johnson said. “It was a strange game probably from the perspective of both teams. A very strange game at the end.”
Pavelski tied it after taking a pass from Joe Thornton, who has an 11-game point streak against the Avalanche.
Matt Irwin scored a power-play goal late in the second period to put the Sharks ahead 3-2 and set up the wild finish.
“We all knew we had about a minute and whatever left to get the tying goal,” Irwin said. “The leadership group did a great job. They got out there and they capitalized. Joe made a great play to Joe. That’s what those guys do.”
Jason Demers and Brent Burns also scored for the Sharks, who have won four of six.
“It was a crazy ending,” Burns said. “I’m sure coaches don’t like seeing that too often. I think we get angry a little bit, but as a group I think we’re pretty confident and it was just a matter of who was going to step up and get that next goal.”
Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog also scored for the Avalanche, who lost for the third time in four games.
Niemi made 29 saves to record his 19th victory and improve to 7-1-3 against Colorado. Semyon Varlamov stopped 41 shots to lose for the fourth time in eight games against the Sharks.
“It’s too bad, but at the same time we showed a lot of character,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “We played well in the third period. We scored two big goals and then they made a great play to tie it.”
In the first of four meetings between the teams, two fights in the first nine minutes set the stage for a physical game.
MacKinnon’s power-play goal midway through the first period gave the Avalanche the early lead.
Ryan O’Reilly’s pass set up MacKinnon’s goal, a shot that beat Niemi to the glove side.
Demers scored his second goal in two games, beating Varlamov over the right shoulder and tying the game at 1-1 with six minutes left in the first period.
Landeskog scored his first goal in 11 games in the final minute to put Colorado ahead 2-1 after one period.
Burns scored after taking a drop pass from Thornton six minutes into the second period to make it 2-2.
NOTES: Sharks rookie F Tomas Hertl will undergo knee surgery sometime this week, the injury a result of a knee-on-knee collision with Los Angeles Kings’ Dustin Brown. “It’s going to be longer than a month,” Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson said. Hertl will also miss playing in the Olympics with the Czech Republic. . Avalanche D Jan Hejda played in his 500th career game. . Avalanche D Tyson Barrie had his career-high four-game point streak snapped. . Thornton has 49 points in 40 games against Colorado.