Rocky Mountain Hijinks: Sharks Put Puck Into Own Net in OT
The Sharks were much more successful shooting on their own net.
Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle flicked a backhand meant to go around the boards past his own goalie, Evgeni Nabokov, 51 seconds into overtime as the Colorado Avalanche pulled off an improbable 1-0 victory in Game 3 of the first-round series in Denver on Sunday.
"To be honest with you, I really don't know what happened," said Boyle, whose team enters Tuesday's Game 4 down 2-1. "It was pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a player, to put it in your own net."
Ryan O'Reilly, the last player to touch the puck as he battled Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray along the boards, got credit for the goal, although he gave the nod to Anderson for keeping the Avs in contention.
Anderson made 43 saves through the final two periods of regulation and overtime, stopping shots at about every angle from about every player in a Sharks uniform.
"I think Andy deserved that one because he was standing on his head all night," said O'Reilly, who may have gotten a piece of Boyle's stick -- or possibly the puck -- on the play. "I was just forechecking on the play and got a lucky bounce."
Anderson's 50-save performance in regulation set a franchise record for the playoffs, although Patrick Roy still holds the overall mark (63 saves) set in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals as the Avs completed a sweep of the Florida Panthers in three overtimes.
"They were throwing a lot at the net, driving the net and getting rebounds," Anderson said. "The guys did a great job. I don't know how many shots we blocked [because] we blocked a bunch. We cleaned up the front of the net and didn't let them get second-or third-shot opportunities."
Meanwhile, Nabokov made 16 saves -- nine of which came in the first period.
"It is what it is," said Nabokov, who made several key stops early and rebounded from a lackluster outing in Game 2. "We should be proud of ourselves about the way we played. The guys laid out 100 percent [effort] out there. We played hard. Sometimes you have to tip the hat to Craig Anderson. He played really well and kept them in there."
This was another entry in the Sharks' annual playoff pratfalls. San Jose has only made it to the conference finals once (2004 against the Calgary Flames) in franchise history and they haven't made it out of the second round since.
Last season, the Sharks won the Presidents' Trophy after they secured the league's best record only to be dispatched by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round. San Jose again has the top seed in the West, and Sunday's deflating loss did nothing to shake the perception that the team underachieves come playoff time.
The Sharks were without Dany Heatley, who was a late scratch due to an undisclosed injury. But the team's two other superstar forwards who averaged better than a point a game in the regular season (Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau) have yet to score a goal in the playoffs.
Marleau in particular had some prime opportunities in Game 3. His best chance of the five shots he put on net came in the second period when he had virtually the entire top of the net open after a rebound only to shovel the puck into one of Anderson's leg pads.
Counting Game 3, the Sharks have outshot the Avs 129-69 in the series, and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said San Jose will do its best to look on the bright side of the Sunday's heartbreaking loss.
"I thought it was our best game out of the three," Vlasic said. "It's disappointing to work that hard and come up short. But a loss is loss and we'll come back in the same way in Game 4."
Colorado forwards Milan Hejduk (upper body) and Ryan Stoa (lower body) were each forced out of the game. Coach Joe Sako said they would be evaluated Monday.