Sakic scored his second goal 1:54 into overtime and the Avalanche avoided elimination for the second time, beating the Sharks 2-1 Saturday to cut San Jose’s lead to 3-2 in the second-round series.
Sakic also tied it midway through the third period for the Avalanche, who dominated the final two periods and overtime to hand the Sharks their first home loss in six playoff games.
Colorado also caused serious cracks in the confidence of the young Sharks, who seemed to wilt under the pressure of a closeout game. As demonstrated by Forsberg’s chemistry with Sakic, the Avalanche’s veterans have been here before: They rallied from a 3-2 deficit against the Sharks two years ago.
“It’s about momentum, and we’ve got it now,” Sakic said. “Everybody thought we were done, the worst team on the planet. We’ve got too many quality guys to go out that way, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t get the next one.”
Game 6 is Tuesday night in Colorado, with a possible Game 7 scheduled for Thursday in San Jose.
Sakic, who forced this game with another overtime goal Wednesday, was in perfect position for Forsberg’s deft pass. He beat Evgeni Nabokov low to the stick side for his seventh goal of the postseason, tying San Jose’s Patrick Marleau for the NHL lead.
“I just felt he was there,” Forsberg said of Sakic on the decisive assist. “The way we played in the second, third and overtime, we showed a lot of heart. That’s how we got to the playoffs. We’ve had to work hard for everything in this series, but we’re finally catching some breaks.”
Sakic said simply: “Peter knew.”
Sakic scored his first goal on a pass from Teemu Selanne, capping 30 minutes of dominant play by the Avalanche’s prolific forwards. Sakic, Forsberg, Selanne and their teammates couldn’t get rolling until they were two periods from summer vacation—but once their high-priced lineup kicked into gear, the Sharks couldn’t keep up.
“We haven’t had the momentum in our court yet, so this is fun,” defenseman Adam Foote said. “We’re very confident. Now we’ve got to go home and do the same thing.”
The Avalanche are halfway to the third comeback from an 0-3 series deficit in NHL history—and after San Jose’s confused, tentative play in Game 5, Colorado seems quite capable of the first such rally since 1975, when the New York Islanders accomplished the feat.
David Aebischer made 21 saves and possibly turned the tide in his goalie matchup with Nabokov, who was repeatedly left unprotected by the Sharks’ shoddy defense and backchecking. After getting pulled in Game 1, Aebischer has allowed just two goals in three games—though he was barely tested Saturday.
Nabokov made 16 saves, but his teammates admitted they gave their worst performance of the playoffs. After Vincent Damphousse scored during a two-man advantage late in the first period, the Sharks generated just three shots in the next 35 minutes.
“Some guys failed miserably in the last couple of games to get the job done,” San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. “That team was coming hard. They played with a desperation we hadn’t seen from them in this series.”
After several defensive miscues and Colorado near-misses that caused grumbling in the sellout crowd, the Avalanche finally broke through with 10:10 left in the third period. Selanne circled the net and found Sakic, who slipped in for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
The Sharks had won five straight home playoff games, outscoring opponents 16-5—but they seem far from wrapping up the franchise’s first trip to the Western Conference finals. After the first period, they had none of the energy or passion of their first nine playoff games.
“They didn’t do anything special,” defenseman Kyle McLaren said of the Avalanche. “We pretty much gave it to them. They threw everything at us. …We usually don’t sit back and wait. That’s surprising.”
Star Colorado D Rob Blake attempted to come back from the upper-body injury that kept him out of Game 4, but played just one shift before heading to the locker room. The Avalanche anticipated Blake’s problems, scratching C Riku Hahl and activating D Kurt Sauer. … Sharks LW Scott Thornton sat out for thefourth time in six games due to an undisclosed injury.