DENVER – San Jose defenceman Dan Boyle still can’t fathom how he managed to send the puck past his own goalie in overtime.
Boyle had a fitful night’s rest as he kept seeing the puck twirl into the net.
“I want to play right now. But I’ve got to wait another day,” Boyle said Monday as the top-seeded Sharks got the day off to clear their heads after their stunning 1-0 loss to Colorado the night before. “It’s a nightmare.”
The only way Boyle might exorcise his demons is if the Sharks rally from their 2-1 deficit and beat the eighth-seeded Avalanche in the best-of-seven series that resumes Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center.
“I feel terrible,” Boyle said in the lobby of the team hotel. “A horrible, horrible bounce.”
That’s pretty much how this series has gone so for the Sharks, who can’t seem to catch a break.
The Sharks have scored three game-winning goals in this series, sending two of them into their own net.
San Jose lost Game 1 at home when the puck deflected off the skate of Sharks defenceman Rob Blake and into the net in the final minute. Devin Setoguchi scored in overtime of Game 2 before Boyle’s blunder Sunday night.
“I think the hockey gods are going to come here with us soon,” Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. “Sometimes, you look back at that kind of stuff and say, ‘Well, you know, that’s what made us stronger and helped us get to the next step.'”
Boyle sure hopes that’s how this plays out. He’s gone over the play countless times in his head, analyzing every detail, like how he surprisingly wound up with the puck deep in the zone and just wanted to clear it out. He went to send it around the boards, but Ryan O’Reilly stuck his stick in the way at the last instant, catching enough of the puck to redirect it between goalie Evgeni Nabokov and the right post.
Just like that, the game San Jose had dominated was over, and it was the Avalanche who were the ones celebrating.
Now, the Sharks are trying to quickly forget about all the calamitous caroms and bad breaks. To take their minds off of it, coach Todd McLellan even gave the team a break from practice.
“There’s been a lot of energy expended, a lot of emotional energy, physical energy,” McLellan explained. “It’s good for them to get out in the sun and revive a little bit.”
The Sharks pretty much did everything they wanted to do against the Avalanche on Sunday night, except for one notable thing.
“Score on the right goalie, I guess,” McLellan said, cracking a smile. “We can be a little bit humorous with it today. I think we need a little bit of an opportunity to smile.”
Try as the Sharks might, they couldn’t sneak anything past Craig Anderson, who turned back 51 shots with one sprawling save after another. His defencemen were certainly doing their part, bruising up their bodies to stop shots.
“Guys were paying the price in front of me and doing what it takes to win hockey games,” Anderson said. “That made my night easier.”
The Sharks may have one of their top offensive threats back in the lineup as McLellan expected Dany Heatley to return for Game 4. Heatley missed Sunday’s game with an unspecified injury.
Heatley has been on the same line with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton, a trio that scored 40 per cent of San Jose’s goals in the regular season. So far this series, though, they’ve been largely bottled up.
“I’d like to think if (Dany) is in the lineup and we had another 50 to 55 shots on goal, and he’s in on them, eventually the puck’s going to go in the net,” McLellan said.
Like the Sharks, Colorado was missing one of its playmakers in Milan Hejduk, who went out early in Game 3 with an injury to his upper body after colliding with teammate Paul Stastny as they drifted into the Sharks’ zone. Hejduk will be re-evaluated before the game to see if he can suit up. Same with rookie forward Ryan Stoa, who’s also banged up.
The Avalanche need all the offence they can round up, especially after being outshot 51-17 by the Sharks on Sunday night.
“If we play our game, the shots will come,” defenceman Adam Foote said.
San Jose hopes the same holds true for a few fortunate bounces.
“We’ve got some players that have played a long, long time. Players that have probably been though this situation before. Players that have probably scored on themselves before,” McLellan said. “They’ll be able to overcome.”