SAN JOSE, Calif. – By overcoming five separate one-goal deficits, the San Jose Sharks avoided falling into a much deeper hole.
Joe Pavelski tied the game in the closing minute of regulation and Devin Setoguchi scored on the power-play goal 5:32 into overtime, allowing the Sharks to even their first-round Western Conference series with a 6-5 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 on Friday night.
The teams traded goals until Setoguchi deflected in the game-winner for his second goal of the game with Adam Foote in the penalty box for Colorado for interference.
“We kept the pressure on them. It just seemed like everything was going wrong that could go wrong,” Setoguchi said. “You never want to go down 2-0. It’s a tough hole to climb out of. It can be done, but you don’t want to do it. Now we’re on a clean slate.”
The series shifts to Denver for Games 3 and 4 beginning Sunday night.
The top-seeded Sharks outshot Colorado 52-22 but never led until Setoguchi’s winner off a centring pass from Ryane Clowe. It was their first lead of the series after dropping the opener 2-1.
“It was real evident that everybody showed up to play tonight,” coach Todd McLellan said. “We had a little extra in the tank that we didn’t have the other day.”
They needed all of that in the final minute of regulation. With Evgeni Nabokov off for an extra skater, Pavelski knocked in a rebound of Dany Heatley’s shot to send the game to overtime. The goal came on San Jose’s 46th shot of the game and sent the fans at the Shark Tank into delirium after so much playoff frustration.
Nabokov earned his fifth overtime win in 13 playoff games for San Jose. He allowed five goals on the first 13 shots he faced, getting mock applause when he stopped an easy dump-in midway through the third period. But he made three of his toughest saves in overtime, setting the stage for Setoguchi’s game-winner.
Despite being the second best team in the regular season the past five years, San Jose hasn’t made it out of the second round in that span. They had lost the first two games at home in their past two series, including a first-round loss to eighth-seeded Anaheim a year ago.
It was a difficult loss for the Avalanche, who were seconds away from going home with control of the series. Now they will think about a missed chance to extend the lead with a two-man advantage for 38 seconds in the third period, the late goal by Pavelski, the lack of a penalty on Rob Blake for a hit on T.J. Galiardi in overtime and then the penalty to Foote.
“It’s a tough, tough pill to shallow right now,” coach Joe Sacco said. “Having the lead with under a minute to go and for them to come back and tie it up. There were a lot of positives you can take out these games on the road for our young guys. We’ll go back home and see what happens.”
Chris Stewart’s second goal of the game gave the Avalanche the 5-4 lead early in the third period and looked as if it could be his second winner in his second career playoff game. Stewart scored with 50 seconds left in Game 1 to give Colorado the 2-1 win when his centring pass deflected in off Blake’s skate.
This one didn’t hold up.
“We’ll think about this game tonight and then move on,” Stewart said. “Any time we can go back to our barn tied up in the series is a good thing. This was a learning experience. It was a lot faster game out there tonight. They were finishing their hits, running down the ice and scoring goals. Both teams were working hard and competing for 60-plus minutes.”
The Sharks are still waiting for their first playoff goal from the top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley, who scored 103 times in the regular season.
But they got goals from Blake, Manny Malhotra and Scott Nichol. The Sharks tied the game in the final minute of the first three periods before winning it in overtime.
“We had to come back from so many deficits through the course of the game, bad bounces, goals that we shouldn’t have given up,” Malhotra said. “It takes a lot to be able to bounce back. When we stick to that game plan and pour it on like that. we’re going to come out on top.”
Kyle Cumiskey, Milan Hejduk and Brandon Yip also scored for Colorado.
The game went to the third period tied at four after a thrilling second period that featured three goals by each team. The outburst started when Anderson sprung Stewart on a breakaway just 24 seconds into the period. The teams traded goals the entire way with the Sharks tying the game for the fourth time when Nichol jammed home a rebound of Jed Ortmeyer’s shot with 14.5 seconds remaining in the second.
The Sharks were once again greeted by a loud crowd of towel-waving fans but that enthusiasm was quickly quieted by the Avalanche. Just 70 seconds into the game, Blake tried to clear a puck from in front of the net but it hit off teammate Marc-Edouard Vlasic and into the net. Cumiskey got credit for the goal.
“The game started and we have a bad bounce again,” Nabokov said. “I’m sure a lot of people thought, ‘Here we go again.'”
The frustration mounted as the Avalanche thwarted the Sharks on their first two power-play chances with the normally supportive fans booing the home team’s inability to set up in the offensive zone with the man advantage.
NOTES: Colorado F Kevin Porter left the game after the second period because of an upper-body injury. … D Niclas Wallin was scratched for San Jose. … Former U.S. women’s soccer star Brandi Chastain, who played in college at nearby Santa Clara, rode on the Zamboni after the second period.