NHL: San Jose Sharks at Colorado Rockies

NHL: Ex-Maple Leafs Score First 2 Goals As Colorado Avalanche Upset San Jose Sharks 4-3 In Shootout

Less than a week ago, Shawn Matthias and Nick Spaling scoring the first two goals in a game — and Roman Polak failing to register anything more than three hits — would have obviously been events from the most recent Toronto Maple Leafs game. However, when they earned those stats last night, the Leafs had the night off. Toronto traded Polak and Spaling to the San Jose Sharks, while Matthias ended up with the Colorado Avalanche. When the Sharks and the Avs faced-off last night, it was the first game for all three players on their new teams.

And in the first 13 minutes of the game, ex-Leafs Spaling and Matthias has scored the first goal of the game for their respective teams. Despite the fact that the Sharks were 25-2-1 this season after scoring the first goal, the Avs came back and forced the Sharks into overtime and then a shootout, where Colorado finally put San Jose away.

Coming to Wednesday night’s game, the Avs were 4-5-1 during the month of February. During that same time, the Sharks were 6-3-1. At the conclusion of Wednesday night’s NHL action, with a record of 32-27-4, the Avs are ranked eighth overall in the Western Conference. They are fifth in the Central Division, 14 points behind Division and Conference leaders, the Dallas Stars.

San Jose, meanwhile, sits at sixth place in the Western Conference with a record of 32-21-6. They are third overall in the Pacific Division, just four points behind the division-leading Los Angeles Kings. With 20 games left in the regular season, it’s quite possible that the Sharks could end up with a top 4 seeding for the NHL Playoffs, as only six points separate the eighth-place Avs (68) and third-place Kings (74). As the Avalanche try to remain within Playoff contention, the Minnesota Wild will be right on their heels (64), and even a short win streak for Arizona Coyotes (60) could knock Colorado out of the post-season.

The first period of play in Wednesday night’s game ended in a 1-1 tie. The Sharks’ newly-acquired forward Spaling shot the puck through a defender’s legs and bounced it off of the top goal post for the first goal of the game at just 2:10. At 13:02, Colorado’s newly-acquired forward Matthias tied things up (with assists from Carl Soderberg and Francois Beauchemin). The score remained the same after both teams failed to put any points on the board in the second period.

Less than two minutes into the final period, Brent Burns put the Sharks up by one (with assists from Tomas Hertl and Paul Martin). Less than four minutes later, Jerome Iginla (assists by Tyson Barrie and Gabriel Landeskog) tied things up. At 11:45, Landeskog tallied a goal of his own (with assists from Andrew Bodnarchuk and Nathan MacKinnon). With just 90 seconds left in regulation, Joel Ward tied things up at three goals each (assists from Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski).

Neither team scored in overtime. When it came time for shootouts, MacKinnon put the Avs up by one. After Joonas Donskoi, Landeskog, and Pavelski missed their shots, Matt Duchene clinched the game when he sneaked one past Martin Jones.

As noted at the San Jose Sharks official website, their next match-up is a home game in California against the Buffalo Sabres. That game begins at 10:30/9:30c on Friday, February 26.

The next game for the Colorado Avalanche is part of the NHL Stadium Series as the Avs welcome the Detroit Red Wings for an outdoor game at Coors Field in Denver. The game is scheduled for Saturday, February 27 at 6 p.m. On Friday night, the legendary rivalry between the Avalanche and the Red Wings continues as alumni from both teams meet in an exhibition played out in the home of the MLB’s Colorado Rockies.

[Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]