SAN JOSE – The first home game back from a long road trip can be difficult, and the Sharks looked like they were deficient of energy early against Colorado at SAP Center on Wednesday.
They eventually found their legs, though, and although it wasn’t exactly pretty, managed to get past the lethargic Avalanche, 5-1.
The Sharks led 1-0 to start the third, and increased it on Chris Tierney’s fifth goal. One of the lone bright spots in recent weeks, Tierney poked in the rebound of a puck that Taylor Fedun put on net, with Matt Nieto also whacking away in the crease at 8:01.
For Fedun, it was his first career NHL assist and first point as a Shark.
Colorado got one back when Matt Duchene found the corner on a tough angle on a power play less than a minute later, but Patrick Marleau restored the two-goal cushion. Logan Couture pressured Tyson Barrie into a turnover, and found Marleau in the slot at 10:12 to make it a 3-1 San Jose lead.
Empty net goals by Couture and John Scott – the latter of which came on a backhand from the defensive zone that somehow bounced into the open cage – capped the scoring.
The Sharks drew to within five points of Winnipeg for the second wild card spot, although they also still trail the Los Angeles Kings by three points. In order to qualify for their 11th straight postseason, San Jose would have to surpass both team with five games remaining (the Kings have a game in hand on the Sharks).
There was a dearth of action or emotion for most of the first half of the game. Play finally started to open up later in the second, though, and Scott Hannan staked the Sharks a 1-0 lead when he directed a perfect shot-pass from Brent Burns past Reto Berra at 16:35.
Prior to that, Fedun broke up a three-on-one Colorado rush at 13:50 to go in the second, getting his leg in front of Dennis Everberg’s chance. Less than three minutes later, Alex Stalock stopped Duchene’s one-timer from the high slot.
Sharks center Joe Thornton failed to get on the scoresheet for the sixth straight game. It’s his longest scoring drought since going eight straight without a point from Nov. 24 – Dec. 16, 1998, while still with the Boston Bruins.
The Sharks remained without top defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who may or may not return this season with a lower body injury. They improved to 3-2-2 without Vlasic in the lineup.
San Jose won both meetings with Colorado this season, including a 3-2 shootout win at Pepsi Center on Oct. 28. They have beaten the Avalanche 13 straight times in San Jose in the regular season, and have earned at least a point in 18 of the last 20 overall (14-2-4).
The Sharks were 0-for-1 on the power play, while Colorado was 1-for-2.
Since the All-Star break, the Sharks’ are just 53-for-72 on the penalty kill (73.6 percent).
Stalock made his third straight start for just the second time this season, and improved to 8-7-2 with 19 saves. He last played three in a row from Dec. 7-11.
Berra allowed three goals on 30 shots to fall to 3-4-1, as starter Semyon Varlamov had the night off.
Hannan left the game about eight minutes into the third period, when he was struck in the face with the puck. He got stitched up and is expected to be OK, Todd McLellan said after the game.
The Sharks made no lineup changes from Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh. Earlier in the week, Daniil Tarasov was reassigned to Worcester while Mike Brown was activated from injured reserve.
Former Sharks prospect Freddie Hamilton, traded to Colorado on March 2, centered the Avalanche’s fourth line. He has one goal in 13 games since joining his new team.
Colorado remains without last year’s Calder Trophy winner, Nathan MacKinnon (broken foot), forward Jamie McGinn (back) and defenseman Erik Johnson (knee).
The Sharks and last place Coyotes will open a home-and-home on Friday at SAP Center, and meet again the next night in Glendale to complete the season series. San Jose is 2-0-1 against Arizona this season.
Jason Demers and the Dallas Stars visit Monday in what will likely be the last home game of the season.