SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -Ben Guite and T.J. Hensick scored on graceful deflections, and Jose Theodore returned from injury to make 30 saves in the Colorado Avalanche's stellar defensive effort in a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night.
|Jose Theodore puts a stop on Jonathan Cheechoo in the third period. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)|
Brett Clark's shots were redirected to score both early goals for the Avalanche, which split its four-game season series with San Jose by holding on through a frenzied third period. After the Avalanche survived an exhilarating 80-second barrage by the Sharks with their goalie pulled, Jeff Finger added an empty-net goal in the final second.
Theodore, who missed Colorado's last three games with back spasms, made a handful of outstanding saves to preserve his sixth win in nine starts.
Captain Patrick Marleau scored and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 22 shots for the Sharks, whose three-game home winning streak was snapped by the Avalanche's superior defense. The Sharks had one of the NHL's worst home records for much of the season before getting on their longest roll of the season early in their six-game homestand.
|Ben Guite (center) is congratulated by teammates Brett Clark, (left) and Cody McCormick (11) after scoring a first-period goal. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)|
Nabokov couldn't be blamed for either of the Avalanche's early goals, both of which resulted from the canny front-of-the-net play usually practiced by teammate Ryan Smyth, who's still out with a broken ankle. The Avalanche also played the same tenacious defense that's kept it in the playoff race despite prolonged absences for their top three offensive players: Smyth, Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny.
Guite scored midway through the first period with an artful redirection of a shot by Clark, but Marleau evened it early in the second with his 10th goal of the season, banging home a cross-ice pass from defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh during a power play. Marleau has two goals in three games after getting just one in his previous 15 outings.
Hensick then scored six seconds into a power play, deflecting another shot by Clark. Hensick, a rookie who played in last month's AHL All-Star game, had two goals apiece in each of the Avalanche's previous two games, giving him six points in five games since returning from the minors.
Joe Thornton was hit in the face with a Colorado stick during the first period, but didn't miss much playing time after his bloody nose was fixed.
Notes: Stastny missed his ninth consecutive game after having his appendix removed, but the club's leading scorer is expected to return Saturday night in Vancouver. ... Scott Hannan, who left the Sharks as a free agent for Colorado last summer, played his second game in San Jose as a member of the Avalanche. Scott Parker, another former San Jose playe, was scratched.