Sharks 2 Avalanche 1
DENVER — San Jose Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle didn’t feel a sense of redemption, only relief.
For Boyle, it’s been a long two days since he scored in overtime on his own goalie, an error that’s been replayed often on the Internet.
He can’t forget the play, just attempt to move on. This, though, helps exorcise some of those demons.
Joe Pavelski scored 10:24 into overtime and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 33 shots, giving top-seeded San Jose a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night, tying the Western Conference series at two games apiece.
Boyle played an integral role in the Game 4 win, scoring the first goal and then thwarting a golden opportunity in overtime as he slid in the way of a pass.
“I won’t be better until we win the series,” Boyle said. “All we did was tie the series.”
This is a matchup many thought the Sharks would dominate, especially with the Avalanche entering in a funk. But that has been far from the case as all four games have been decided by a goal, the last three going into overtime.
Game 5 is Thursday in San Jose.
On his game-winner, Pavelski gathered up a loose puck deep in Colorado’s zone and beat Craig Anderson with a shot into the right corner.
A no-doubter the moment it left his stick.
“I was able to get it through,” Pavelski humbly said. “It was a game we really wanted. To go down 3-1 would have been a real tough hole.”
The contest was another battle between Nabokov and Anderson, both trying to outperform the other in net.
Anderson faced another barrage of San Jose shots. But for all the volume, the Sharks still struggled to sneak anything by him. Anderson has seen 148 shots over a span of three games. He had 43 saves Tuesday night.
Still, Anderson was lamenting the last one.
“We would have liked to have had a better result, but at the end of the day we can look ourselves in the mirror and know we gave it our all,” Anderson said. “We didn’t get the bounce tonight.”
The Sharks know a thing or two about bad bounces.
San Jose was feeling a little unlucky entering the game, waiting for the calamitous caroms to even out.
The team 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. Then, in Game 3 on Sunday, Boyle knocked it past Nabokov when his clearing attempt was tipped into the net.
The Sharks took Monday off to rest and recharge after the disheartening loss.
They definitely had the fresher legs early in the game, something the youthful Avalanche have prided themselves on all series.
Paul Stastny drew a penalty on the opening faceoff for high-sticking. The Sharks took advantage as Boyle’s slap shot flew through the traffic and past Anderson just 72 seconds into the game.
That pretty much answered where Boyle’s head would be after his costly error.
His teammates didn’t need to give him a pre-game pep talk, though. Boyle has a Stanley Cup title and Olympic gold medal on his resume.
“No one’s worried about Dan Boyle,” Devin Setoguchi said.
“That put Game 3 to rest in his mind and probably a lot of other people’s minds,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
The Avalanche will try to regroup in a hurry.
“We’ve got to let it go,” Colorado’s Adam Foote said. “We have to keep positive.”
Stastny tied the game 1-1 early in the second period when he redirected a shot by John-Michael Liles past Nabokov on a power play. He has a goal and three assists in this post-season after leading the Avalanche with 79 points in the regular season.
The Avalanche were missing an integral part of their offence as Milan Hejduk sat out with an upper-body injury. Hejduk left early in Game 3 after a collision with Stastny as they drifted into the Sharks’ zone. Kevin Porter also sat out with an upper-body injury.
Filling in at forward for the Avalanche were Chris Durno and Marek Svatos. Durno became the 12th Colorado player to make his playoff debut in this series.
The Sharks had one of their offensive weapons back as Dany Heatley returned after sitting out Sunday with an unspecified injury. Heatley is a member of San Jose’s top line that also includes Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
The trio has struggled in the series, failing to score after being so reliable all season.
Thornton said the pressure isn’t mounting.
“Eventually, it will come to us,” he said.
NOTES: Colorado F Peter Mueller remained sidelined with a head injury. … Sharks D Marc-Edouard Vlasic took a puck off the side of the head in the second period, but quickly returned. … There was a moment of silence before the game to honour Rockies president Keli McGregor, who was found dead in his hotel room in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, and recognize the 11th anniversary of the Columbine tragedy.