Five observations from Sharks' Game 4 loss to Avalanche to even series


What could have been a commanding three-games-to-one series lead heading back to San Jose is now a split at two games apiece. The Sharks’ second-round Stanley Cup Playoff matchup against Colorado started as a best-of-seven, which evolved into a best of five. Now it’s best of three, where home-ice advantage lies at SAP Center.

Here are some takeaways from Game 4’s shutout.

Sloppy play

Logan Couture criticized the Sharks’ amount of turnovers on Thursday night, which was apparent to anyone who watched. Just not to the person tasked with keeping that running tally. According to the official NHL scoresheet, San Jose committed only four “giveaways”.

But that trend of sloppiness was a determining factor in the game. Had the Sharks threatened offensively and possessed the puck as they typically do, Thursday night’s loss likely would not have happened given their outstanding goaltending effort.

Need to bounce back

Looking back on the first round, it was the shutout in Game 4 that turned to be a wake-up call for the Sharks. Here we are in the next round, and that very same game produced an identical lack of scoring.

In Denver, they looked flat and out of sorts, both with and without the puck. But all that’s important now is how they respond. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, you are going to lose games -- sometimes multiple in a row.

It’s how you retaliate before time runs out that will matter most.

Jones good again

From a team perspective: the Sharks have won five of their last seven playoff games.  From an individual perspective: Martin Jones has looked solid in all of them. In fact, without his 25 stops tonight -- including some of the incredible variety -- San Jose could have given up five or six goals.  

This makes that lack of offense even more unfortunate.  Jones was only beat twice in the contest, which traditionally puts his team in line for a victory.  

Power play struggles

A critically missed opportunity for San Jose came in the first 1:40 of the third period. The Sharks had carry-over power play time, trailing by one, with fresh legs and ice. Not only did that man-advantage not result in a goal, it didn’t even produce a scoring chance, nor even much sustained offensive zone time.  

In short, the power play is one of the only reasons the Sharks advance to the second round, but thus far against Colorado, it has not been a positive factor in the series -- either in results or gaining momentum.

[RELATED: Avs troll San Jose by playing "Baby Shark" during loss]

Too much MacKinnon

There was a widespread sentiment on social media that Nathan MacKinnon was made too much of a focal point by the national broadcast of Game 4. From my view, the only person that forced the MacKinnon narrative was No. 29 himself.

He led the Avalanche in TOI, shots, and skillful plays. The dude has dangles, not to mention the expanded eight-game point streak. If the Sharks can contain the 23-year-old, you feel like their odds greatly increase to advance into the Western Conference Finals.

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