DENVER — Captain Gabriel Landeskog scored 2:32 into overtime after Colorado squandered a late lead in regulation and the Avalanche beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Monday night to force a decisive Game 7 in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Landeskog dumped the puck into the zone, turned in a big hit along the boards, got up in time to take a pass from rookie Cale Makar and knock in the goal past Martin Jones to help the Avalanche escape elimination. J.T. Compher had two goals and an assist, while Tyson Jost added another.
Game 7 is Wednesday 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 on Tuesday. The Sharks are 7-4 all-time in Game 7s, including a win over Vegas in the first round, while the Avalanche have a 4-6 mark since relocating to the Mile High City.
Philipp Grubauer made 23 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 fell to 22-19 when opponents are facing elimination.
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. “We didn’t have a choice.”
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 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. It all was set up when Zadorov broke his stick on the play and Landeskog handed him his.
Colorado took a one-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 from the blue line, 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 morning 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.”
NOTES: Sharks D Erik Karlsson had his 12th assist of the 2019 post-season. … Avalanche F Matt Calvert missed a second straight game with an upper body injury. … Colorado went with 11 forwards and seven defencemen.
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Pat Graham, The Associated Press