Avs Take Bite Out Of Sharks

Avalanche's Chris Drury celebrates after Milan Hejduk scored on Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov. AP

The Colorado Avalanche are playing so well that even an occasional misstep by goalie Patrick Roy is allowable.

Roy surrendered a goal late in the third period, but it was just about the only mistake Colorado made as the league-leading Avalanche defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Saturday.

Joe Sakic, the NHL's top scorer, and Milan Hejduk each had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche remained undefeated in six games. In fact, Colorado's last loss in regulation was to the Nashville Predators on Dec. 26.

"We did a solid job. We scored on the power play and we killed off our penalties," Roy said. "This team is sharp. Everybody is really focused."

The Sharks, who were precariously perched atop the Pacific Division, are winless in their last four games - their worst stretch this season.

"They're a good hockey team but we gave them a little too much respect," San Jose center Mike Ricci said. "We've got to play with a little more zip."

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Game Summary

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  • San Jose has been adjusting to the loss of leading scorer Vincent Damphousse, who could miss the remainder of the regular season with a dislocated right shoulder. The star center has missed two games, leaving San Jose to shuffle its top lines.

    Hejduk scored his sixth goal in three games by beating Egeni Nabokov on a power play midway through the first period. Hejduk knocked in Ray Bourque's shot from the blue line for his 27th goal.

    Nabokov stopped 20 shots, and Roy made 21 saves for Colorado.

    Colorado ranks fourth in the league on the power play, while the Sharks ranked sixth in penalty killing. But it was a relatively clean game, with just 12 penalty minutes between the two teams.

    San Jose missed an opportunity with just less than three minutes to go in the first when Scott Thornton faced Roy 1-on-1 in front of the crease, but the shot went wide right.

    The Avalanche went up 2-0 five minutes into the second on Sakic's 27th goal of the season. Sakic, credited with an assist on Hejduk's goal, has two goals and four assists in his last three games.

    "We talked a lot about neutralizing those guys," San Jose coach Darryl Sutter said. "But with Sakic, if you can hold him to one or two points, that's neutralizing him."

    The Sharks peppered Roy with shots in the third, and finally avoided the shutout with Owen Nolan's goal with 12:12 gone. Nolan came up with the puck after a faceoff and his shot from the left circle appeared to angle in off Roy's skate.

    "It was bad luck, you know?" Roy said, explaining that he's never been very lucky when it comes to shutout opportunities.

    San Jose pulled Nabokov with 16 seconds left and took a time out in a final effort to score.

    After the game, the Sharks held a closed-door meeting and Sutter was clearly disappointed with the effort of his team.

    "The differences is one elite player vs. a number of elite players," he said, singling out only Nolan.

    Notes

  • Three of the last five games between the Sharks and the Avalanche have ended in ties.
  • Roy is 17-4-3 overall against the Sharks.
  • The Avalanche are 9-20-4 against the Sharks, including a 7-10-0 mark at the San Jose Arena.
  • Sharks forward Todd Harvey has missed nine games with a neck injury, but returned to practice Friday.
  • Colorado was without forward Adam Deadmarch, who sprained a knee in Thursday's victory over Vancouver.


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