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  • Sharks vs. Avalanche: What to watch in NHL playoff second-round series

    SAN JOSE — It’s hard to think about what’s next after the Sharks’ dramatic Game 7 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, but the Stanley Cup playoff show must go on.

    Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche are next up for the Sharks, with the second-round series beginning Friday in San Jose.

    When asked after Tuesday night’s win if he’d thought about the Avs series yet, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer gave a sigh and a chuckle before shaking his head “no.” (The guy did just come off coaching his team to a huge come-from-behind victory, after all.)

    But that didn’t stop the rest of us from looking ahead. Here are three things to keep in mind for the second-round matchup with Colorado.

    Of course, one of the biggest differences between the Sharks and Avs heading into this series is the amount of rest each team has had before the start of the second round. Colorado made quick work of its first-round opponent, dousing the Calgary Flames in a five-game set.

    San Jose had a very different route to the second round, playing a full seven games against Vegas. Given the incredibly physical nature of the Sharks-Golden Knights series — there was no shortage of extracurriculars during those contests — San Jose certainly will enter the second round with a little less time to take a breath and regroup.

    The lack of a long break also could play in the Sharks’ favor, though. San Jose enters the series riding a three-game winning streak and the confidence to come back from any deficit. So even though their opponent will change, the Sharks already will have forward momentum going into the next round.

    You might look on paper and see that the Sharks took the season series against the Avalanche 3-0-0. Keep in mind, though, the Sharks didn’t run away with any of those contests.

    After going up 5-1 in the second period of their first meeting on Jan. 2, San Jose allowed Colorado to answer with three goals to make the score 5-4 late in the third frame. San Jose held on to win the game by one goal.

    Their second meeting, on March 1, was more one-sided but still ended with the Sharks narrowly winning 4-3.

    The Sharks’ best performance against the Avalanche was a 5-2 victory in their regular-season finale. After surrendering the first goal at 2:56 in the first period, San Jose dug deep to attack back with three unanswered goals in the later part of the game. To beat this team in a playoff series, the Sharks have to be even better than that.

    Team Teal can start by taking what made them successful against Vegas and applying it to this series. Strong starts – preferably without giving up a goal in the first five minutes – and offensive contributions from all parts of the lineup remain important.

    But perhaps the best thing San Jose can do is shut down Colorado’s hot hands. Much like they had to slow down Vegas’ Mark Stone-led line, the Sharks’ defense will have to halt a second-line combination containing Mikko Rantanen, who leads all Avs skaters in the playoffs with nine points (five goals, four assists.)

    Plus, nobody can forget about MacKinnon, who has carried his dominant play from the regular season right into the playoffs. The Sharks have the firepower to counter Colorado’s forward assault, but holding these players off the scoreboard also will be key.

    SAN JOSE – Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer is classifying Joe Pavelski as day-to-day after the captain sustained a scary injury during San Jose’s Game 7 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.

    Pavelski left Game 7 at the 9:13 mark of the third period after getting cross-checked off a faceoff by Cody Eakin and falling to the ice and hitting his head. No. 8 was bleeding profusely and had to be helped off the ice by a few of his teammates with a towel being held to his head. DeBoer wouldn’t specify exactly what Pavelski’s ailment was, but said the top-line forward was “feeling the effects” of the injury and likely won’t be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Sharks’ second-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.

    “It could’ve been worse, you could’ve been dealing with a fractured skull,” DeBoer told the media after Thursday’s morning skate. “Thankfully, we weren’t.”

    Pavelski did not take the ice for practice Thursday, although the press was told he was in the building.

    Teammates Melker Karlsson and Tim Heed were also missing from practice Thursday morning. Joonas Donskoi, who missed Game 7 against the Knights with an unspecified injury, skated in a non-contact orange sweater early Thursday morning but left the ice before practice got underway. Micheal Haley returned to practice for the first time since sustaining an injury during Game 3 against the Knights.

    When questioned about the status of players missing from practice, DeBoer chalked it up to the team being banged-up just like every other team still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.

    Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes the five-minute major penalty that changed the course of Game 7 between the Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights was a bad call, and it turns out the league agrees.

    Golden Knights general manager George McPhee told reporters Thursday that the NHL called and apologized to him for the call on Cody Eakin during the third period of Tuesday’s decisive game.

    “The league did reach out and apologize,” McPhee said, via The Las Vegas Review-Journal. “They made a mistake, and I’m sure [the officials] feel bad about it. They want to get things right like we all do when we’re doing our jobs.”

    The five-minute major for a dangerous hit on Joe Pavelski opened the floodgates for the Sharks. Down 3-0 when Eakin went to the box, San Jose scored four goals on the ensuing power play to take a one-goal lead. The Sharks eventually won in overtime on Barclay Goodrow’s series-clinching goal.

    After the game, Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault ripped the refs for their “embarrassing call,” saying they helped the Sharks “steal” Game 7.

    Up until that point in the series, the Sharks were 4 for 29 on the power play, but Vegas’ penalty-killing unit couldn’t stop Team Teal from erasing a three-goal deficit in a four-minute span. Vegas can complain all it wants, but eventually, the Golden Knights have to look in the mirror.

    That being said, giving up four goals in four minutes is a tough pill to swallow, but having the league admit it blew the call is just pouring salt in the wound.

    There’s also this: The NHL Department of Hockey Operations announced that referees Dan O’Halloran and Eric Furlatt, who were on the ice for the call, will not officiate in the second playoff round, per ESPN. O’Hallaron leads all active NFL refs with 212 playoff games worked, ESPN noted.


    Post time: Apr-26-2019
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