DENVER -- The San Jose Sharks are movin’ on down the playoff road.
The top-seeded Sharks, with yet another big game effort from center Joe Pavelski, defeated the eighth-seeded Colorado Avalanche 5-2 Saturday night at Pepsi Center to clinch their Western Conference Quarterfinal series in six games.
The Sharks got goals from Dan Boyle and Pavelski, his second of the game, 89 seconds apart in the third period to overcome a 2-1 deficit. Devin Setoguchi and Douglas Murray hit the empty net in the final minute as the Sharks became the first team from the Western Conference to advance to the semifinals.
"That's one series down. For tonight, we'll enjoy this," captain Rob Blake said. "We'll get back to work next week when we know who we're playing."
It was the first Game 6 victory for the Sharks on the road in 10 tries, and just the third in 16 tries overall. San Jose hadn’t won a Game 6 since beating Colorado six years ago.
It was also a turnabout from last year, when the Sharks were also the top seed in the West but were bounced by Anaheim in six games in the opening round.
"I think we realized that nothing comes easy after last year," said Pavelski, who led the way with five goals and eight points.
Brandon Yip had put the Avalanche in front at 4:51 of the third period when he drove down the slot and redirected Paul Stastny’s pass behind goalie Evgeni Nabokov on his team’s first shot of the period.
The Sharks responded quickly.
Boyle took a pass from Dany Heatley above the right circle, shifted to his left looking for a screen, and fired the puck over the left shoulder of Colorado forward Chris Stewart into the top corner of goalie Craig Anderson’s net at 7:33.
"I don't think we had played very well up to that point," said Blake, who won a Cup with the Avalanche in 2001. "Once Boyler got us back in there, I think our size and strength took over."
Pavelski, with his series-leading fifth goal, put the Sharks ahead at 9:02 on a 2-on-1 rush with Kyle Cumiskey the lone defender back. Pavelski momentarily lost the puck, but regained it in time and whipped it behind Anderson from inside the left circle.
"A couple of mistakes, that's all it was," Anderson said.
The Avalanche tied the game 1-1 and snapped a long scoring drought on a goal by Marek Svatos at 6:14 of the second period. Svatos skated down the left side along the boards with Joe Thornton. He moved into the circle, cut through the slot and rammed the puck by Nabokov’s left pad.
The Avalanche had gone 133 minutes and 11 seconds without scoring since Stastny connected for a power-play goal early in the second period of Game 4.
The Sharks, on a roll after a 5-0 win in Game 5, didn’t take long to take the lead in game 6. Pavelski controlled the puck behind the Avalanche net while outmuscling Cumiskey, moved to the side of the net and, while he was on his knees, jammed the puck by Anderson just 47 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Pavelski scored goals in three consecutive games.
Shift of the Night: Avalanche forwards Paul Stastny and Brandon Yip were pretty quiet through two periods – neither had a shot on goal -- but they came through at 4:51 of the third period and combined to give Colorado a brief 2-1 lead. Stastny sidestepped a check by Sharks defenseman Jason Demers in the right corner and passed to Yip driving down the slot. Yip knocked the puck past goalie Evgeni Nabokov.
1 - 0 SJS
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 COL
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 SJS
4 - 2 SJS