Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi scored goals just over four minutes apart in the third period Thursday night, lifting the San Jose Sharks to a 4-2 win over the visiting Colorado Avalanche.
The result enabled San Jose to tighten its grip on second place in the Pacific Division with 100 points, three ahead of Anaheim, which has a game in hand. The Sharks can wrap up home-ice advantage for the first round of the Western Conference with a win in their season finale Saturday night against the visiting Minnesota Wild.
Colorado stayed a point ahead of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the West. The Avalanche will claim a postseason berth if they beat the Blues in their season finale in Denver on Saturday night.
With the game tied at 1 after Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen roofed the rebound of a Nathan MacKinnon shot past Sharks goalie Martin Jones at 4:43 of the third for his 29th goal, San Jose answered Colorado’s power-play marker with one of its own. Kevin Labanc teed up Couture in the left circle, and the center wired a wrister past goalie Jonathan Bernier for his 34th goal.
Donskoi added the eventual winning tally at 10:14, his 14th goal of the season. Moments after MacKinnon beat Jones but not the post, the Sharks countered. Dylan DeMelo’s point shot was stopped by Bernier, but Donskoi gathered the rebound and poked a backhander just inside the left post.
Blake Comeau drew the Avalanche within a goal with his 13th at 13:06, gaining position in the slot and deflecting David Warsofsky’s shot. However, San Jose’s Tomas Hertl sealed the outcome with an empty-netter at 19:58, his 22nd marker of the season.
The only goal through two periods was the fifth of the season for San Jose’s Justin Braun at 2:58 of the first. Braun’s one-timer from the right point deflected off a Colorado defender and nestled into the upper left corner.
Bernier, the Avalanche’s starter for the season’s remainder after Semyon Varlamov’s season-ending left knee injury, saved 32 of 35 shots. Jones stopped 23 shots to pick up the win.
—Field Level Media