Avalanche edge Sharks with Nichushkin’s late goal

Nichushkin breaks the tie in the final minutes

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Sunday night, thanks to a late goal by Valeri Nichushkin. Nichushkin scored with 3:32 left in the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie and lifting the Avalanche to their second straight win. Nichushkin also had an assist, giving him his first multi-point game of the season.

The Avalanche improved to 21-11-2 and moved into a tie with the Dallas Stars for the top spot in the Central Division. The Sharks dropped to 9-17-3 and extended their losing streak to six games. They are last in the Pacific Division and have the second-worst record in the NHL.

Rantanen opens the scoring, MacKinnon extends his point streak

The first period was scoreless, as both teams had trouble generating offense. The Avalanche had nine shots on goal, while the Sharks had eight. The best chance came from the Sharks’ Timo Meier, who hit the post with a wrist shot.

The Avalanche broke the deadlock in the second period, when Mikko Rantanen scored his 16th goal of the season at 7:18. Rantanen took a pass from Nathan MacKinnon and beat Sharks goalie Martin Jones with a one-timer from the left circle. MacKinnon extended his point streak to nine games, with six goals and 11 assists in that span.

Avalanche edge Sharks with Nichushkin’s late goal

The Sharks responded with a power-play goal at 14:59, when Logan Couture tipped in a shot by Brent Burns. Couture leads the Sharks with 13 goals and 25 points this season. Burns has 10 assists, but is still looking for his first goal.

Grubauer makes 38 saves, Landeskog seals the win

The third period was a tight affair, as both teams had chances to take the lead. The Avalanche had a power play early in the period, but could not capitalize. The Sharks had a two-on-one breakaway, but Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer made a spectacular save on Kevin Labanc.

The game seemed to be heading to overtime, until Nichushkin scored the game-winner. Nichushkin took a pass from Joonas Donskoi and skated into the Sharks’ zone. He faked a shot and then slid the puck under Jones’ pads, sending the Avalanche bench into a frenzy.

The Sharks pulled Jones for an extra attacker, but could not find the equalizer. Gabriel Landeskog scored an empty-net goal with 29 seconds left, securing the 3-1 victory for the Avalanche. Landeskog has 12 goals and 22 points this season.

Grubauer finished with 38 saves, earning his 16th win of the season. He has a 2.19 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage, ranking among the best in the league. Jones made 25 saves, but suffered his 13th loss of the season. He has a 3.28 goals-against average and a .891 save percentage, ranking among the worst in the league.

What’s next for both teams

The Avalanche and the Sharks will face each other again on Tuesday, in the second game of their back-to-back series. The game will be played at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT.

The Avalanche will look to sweep the series and extend their winning streak to three games. They have a 10-5-1 record on the road this season. The Sharks will look to snap their losing streak and earn their first win of 2024. They have a 6-8-1 record at home this season.

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