Game 6 between the Sharks and Avalanche may have started off slowly, but boy did it get interesting. After trailing for the majority of the game, San Jose tied things up late in regulation to send it into overtime. But Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog played the hero as the Avs prevailed 4-3, forcing the series to return to San Jose for a winner-take-all Game 7.
Here are three takeaways from Game 6:
What the heck got into JT Compher?
Right from the start of the game when he went after Erik Karlsson, the Avs’ forward was on fire. He was all over the ice all evening, beating out San Jose’s defense to score his two big goals for Colorado -- which is extra impressive considering he had two goals in 16 playoff games prior to Monday’s contest.
Compher’s contributions were big given that Colorado’s top line was kept off the scoreboard, despite Nathan MacKinnon skating more than 26 minutes. Compher will be a skater for the Sharks to keep an eye on in Game 7, especially if Mikko Rantanen ends up not being able to play and the lines get shuffled.
Getting offense from the defense
Not everything was doom and gloom for the Sharks in Game 6. When it came to San Jose’s offense on Monday night, they got a big boost from Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Erik Karlsson. All three blueliners did incredible work in the offensive zone to generate the Sharks' first two goals. Karlsson looked especially strong exercising patience to set Burns up to beat Philipp Grubauer and tie the game up 2-2 with 10 seconds left in the second period. Of course, Vlasic was the big hero late in regulation, tying the game up 3-3 with less than three minutes left to play. All three defensemen made big plays in their own zone as well -- Burns made a big impact in the third period keeping the Avalanche from adding to their lead with less than five minutes left to play.
As we have discussed throughout the series, the Sharks are at their absolute best when their top three defensemen are playing at an exceptional level on both ends of the ice. All three skaters definitely gave the Sharks a very good chance to win on Monday evening, and they’ll have to replicate that if the team is going to take Game 7 and advance to the Western Conference final.
Shifts in momentum
After Game 5, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer commented that neither team was stealing games through the series -- whichever team played the best won. Game 6 was a different story, however, with momentum shifting back and forth, especially in the second period when the Sharks were able to bounce back and tie the score up.
With the series returning to San Jose, the Sharks need to seize the opportunity to keep the momentum in their favor starting early in the game. They were able to rally from two deficits in Game 6, but still weren’t able to get the next goal. If San Jose is going to win Game 7 and advance, they'd be wise to avoid playing catch-up.