Game Five saw the San Jose Sharks finally connect the dots and get some production on the board.
They have taken play to the Avalanche during long stretches in this series, but due to a few unlucky bounces, found themselves locked in a tie coming into Game Five. The Sharks continued this trend last night, and finally saw their hard work pay off.
Logan Couture is one of the many standout youngsters who had a huge game Thursday night, netting two goals to lead the Sharks.
"It's been unbelievable," said Couture. "It's been a lot of fun."
Sharks players and fans would have to agree, as the Sharks are looking more and more like a complete team and less and less like a one-line pony.
After dictating play in the first period, and outshooting the Avs by a 12-2 margin, Couture's tip-in at 8:25 of the second period bolstered the Sharks' confidence.
Patrick Marleau, who stayed on from the shift before, flung the puck to Dany Heatley, who wizzed a nifty shot-pass to Couture. He deftly deflected the shot past Craig Anderson.
The Sharks third power play came on a holding penalty against the Avs' top line and TJ Galiardi. Pavelski would capitalize with a shot from the blue line, after Anderson seemed to fall on the HP Pavilion ice again.
I wrote about two points in this article , and not only did Pavs come through, but the bounces went our way as well. Anderson must hate the ice at HP, as it's probably the fourth or fifth time he's fallen or looked awkward skating in this series.
The energy line got into the action as well, as Dwight Helminen took a shot off the end boards and lifted it into the goal from a sharp angle. Scott Nichol, who has shined in this playoff series thus far with his motor, set up the play by sending the puck wide off the boards.
Things got chippy as the Avs started seeing things slip away from them.
I've mentioned in past articles that this Colorado team—while gifted and young—looked tired and ground down during the periods when the Sharks dominated them.
Things would look no different in Game Five as frustrations boiled over on the Colorado bench with Ryan Clowe and Cody Mcleod chirping back and forth at one another.
Couture added his second at 10:37 on a rebound shot after Ryan Clowe carried the puck over the right side and shot off of Anderson's pad. Couture crashed the net, and quickly slammed home the rebound.
"He's given our team a spark, and he deserves to play every minute he gets," McLellan said earlier in the series.
This led to Anderson getting yanked and replaced by a familiar face to Sharks fans: Petr Budaj.
Marleau scored his first goal in the series with a power-play goal at 13:24 to put the finishing touches on Game Five.
Now comes the stiffest test for the Sharks thus far, traveling back to the Pepsi Center for Game Six.
The Sharks will need to maintain focus and keep the pedal to the metal, as it were. The Avs will put forth their best effort, and we need to match or up the ante to close the deal on this series.
Nabokov looked pretty good in Game Five, netting his seventh career postseason shutout, but outside of a few very good saves this series, he's been inconsistent. The greatest thing he's accomplished this series is staying awake through long stretches of no action.
He was up to the task on a great chance early in the third period, denying Matt Duchene his first goal of the playoffs.
Although Marleau netted his first goal, he hasn't quieted the critics for his inconsistent play in this series. I wish I had a dollar for every time he gave the old "O'le" on the forecheck. He doesn't seem to be in the game, or something else seems to be distracting him.
Could possible contract or management issues be weighing on him? McLellan was visibly upset with his winger, and on several occasions, admonished the top line Thursday night.
Although Heatley did not score, he contributed a great deal more on Thursday night than he did in any of the past games.
Game Six will be a great one, and hopefully one step towards a long playoff run. For those who are getting too high, I would kindly suggest a word or two to ground you.
The Avs are still a young, confident team, and we'll need our best effort to close them out in their house.
Jumbo and Marleau still look out of it, despite Patty notching one. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, these guys need to step it up. If we advance, we'll be facing stiffer and more talented competition.
Our depth and youngsters are shining thus far. If you are a Sharks fan, that aspect has got to have you excited.
For a long time, we've lamented about our top line and its production, and the fact that we're still playing hard, following the game plan, and executing without them is a great sign.