The Associated Press
DENVER–Gabriel Landeskog’s first career overtime playoff goal was a bit complicated: Dump in the puck, hit a guy along the boards, fall down, scramble back up, skate toward the net and knock it in.
The captain’s reaction right after was not–a big, toothy grin with arms raised to greet eager teammates.
Landeskog scored 2:32 into overtime after Colorado squandered a late lead in regulation and the Avalanche beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 last night to force a decisive Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinal series.
He was certainly a danger on the final play. Landeskog charged after a puck he banged into the zone and then hit Erik Karlsson with enough force to knock off the Sharks defenceman’s helmet. Landeskog got back up, took the pass from rookie defenceman Cale Makar and sent it by Martin Jones to help the Avalanche escape elimination.
Game 7 is tomorrow in San Jose. The winner will play either Dallas or St. Louis in the conference final. The Stars and Blues are tied heading into Game 7 in St. Louis tonight.
The Sharks are 7-4 all-time in Game 7s, including an overtime win over Vegas in the first round, while the Avalanche have a 4-6 mark since relocating to the Mile High City.
J.T. Compher scored twice and had an assist, while Tyson Jost added another goal.
Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves, including a pad save on Tomas Hertl early in OT.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored twice, including the tying goal off the skate of an Avalanche defenceman with 2:28 remaining, and Brent Burns added another for the Sharks, who overcame one-goal deficits on three occasions.
This has been a back-and-forth series. San Jose captured Game 1 and the two have alternated wins the rest of the way. The combined score in the series is 17-16 in favour of the Sharks.
Colorado has been playing desperate hockey since late in the regular season just trying to sneak into the playoffs. The team went 8-0-2 down the stretch to secure the eighth seed. The Avs haven’t lost back-to-back games since mid-March.
“Every game was kind of an elimination game for us, so to speak,” defenceman Erik Johnson said.
The last time Colorado won Game 6 when facing a 3-2 deficit was the 2002 conference semifinals, which also happened to be against San Jose. The Avalanche then knocked off the Sharks 1-0 at home in Game 7.
Nathan MacKinnon nearly gave Colorado a 4-2 advantage late in the game, but his attempt was deflected away by the stick of Burns. Soon after, Vlasic tied it up when he banked a shot off the right skate of Colorado defenceman Nikita Zadorov.
Colorado took a goal lead on two separate occasions in the second period, only to have the Sharks tie it right back up. After Jost scored, Vlasic answered. And after Compher’s goal, Burns responded with 9.8 seconds left.
It was a painful second period for Mikko Rantanen, who took a hip check from Burns in the right hip/thigh area. Rantanen immediately went to the bench and into the locker room. Rantanen gingerly returned about 4 minutes later.
Colorado hit two posts in a scoreless first period. Jones has surrendered just one goal to Colorado in the opening period all series.
Sharks captain Joe Pavelski made another step toward a return as he went through drills Monday at Pepsi Center. He’s been out since his head slammed against the ice in Game 7 of a first-round series against Vegas.
“It still really is day-to-day,” Pavelski said. “Wish I had a set-in-stone answer–go here, do this and be ready. We’re taking everything into play.”
In other Stanley Cup Playoff action yesterday, the Boston Bruins blanked the host Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 to win their Eastern Conference semifinal series 4-2.
The Bruins next will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the conference final.