Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche too much for San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE – Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson was in the offensive zone in the second period when he saw winger Rudolfs Balcers streaking toward the Colorado Avalanche net. Karlsson then hit him with a tape-to-tape pass, but the redirection by Balcers bounced harmlessly off the post.

Later in the period, Karlsson sprung Alexander Barabanov for a breakaway chance. Barabanov, though, flat out missed the net from about 15 feet away.

Those missed chances and others proved costly, as the Sharks rallied back from a four-goal deficit with goals Jeffrey Viel, Balcers, and Karlsson only to lose 5-3 to the Avalanche at SAP Center.

“I don’t know. It’s been a lot of posts and cross-bars. It’s not even about luck anymore,” said Balcers, who has seven goals in 40 games this season. “I don’t know why they just don’t go in. It’s frustrating.”

The Sharks were coming off a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

“it was a fairly even game for the first two periods. We just got to capitalize on our chances,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “Same thing as last night. We didn’t have any goal support.”

Takeaways from Friday night:

NEED TO FINISH: Finishing chances has been an issue all season for the Sharks.

Unless forward Jonathan Dahlen gets hot, it appears the Sharks will only have three 20-goal scorers this season in Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl, who each have 25 goals, and Logan Couture, who has 20.

Dahlen is next on the list with 12 goals this season as the Sharks entered Saturday with an average of 2.57 goals per game, the fourth-worst mark in the NHL.

In other words, getting another player who can finish around the net would presumably be one of the Sharks front office’s top priorities this offseason.

“It’s tough to win every night and play a perfect game every night when you’re not scoring goals,” Boughner said. “That margin for error is very small. So, it’d be nice, for sure, we need some more depth scoring from different parts of our lineup.”

The Sharks also had a goal by Couture disallowed after an Avalanche challenge determined that San Jose’s captain was offside at the 6:07 mark of the first period. Colorado took over from there, as Kadri and Helm scored 3:56 apart for a 2-0 lead.

SHOWING SOME CHARACTER: The Sharks allowed a power-play goal to Nazem Kadri and even strength markers to Darren Helm, Cale Makar, and Valeri Nichushkin to fall behind 4-0.

At that point, the game could have gotten out of hand and followed the same path as the Sharks’ 8-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on March 5 or their 7-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 22.

But Viel’s second-period goal snapped a 146:32 goalless drought for the Sharks, and Balcers and Karlsson both scored in the third.

The Sharks iced a better lineup Friday and played better defense than in that atrocious game against the Predators. Still, the eight-goal loss is seared into everyone’s memory.

“We remembered that feeling (against) Nashville, that I think every guy in that room felt the exact same way,” Sawchenko said. “We were playing in front of our home crowd here, the guys that have supported us all year long. Good times, bad times, thick and thin, and we go out there and we put out an effort like that, it was brutal. It was embarrassing, and I don’t think anyone ever wanted to do that again.

“So it didn’t matter if you’re playing Nashville, Arizona, Colorado, we wanted to go out there and regardless of the schedule and all the excuses we could have made, we just wanted to show some character and fight back in that game.”

EVALUATING SAWCHENKO: Sawchenko was making his first start since March 10 when he earned his first NHL victory with a 33-save performance against the Kings.

The Avalanche scored three times on their first 11 shots, but the Sharks defended well in front of him after that.

“I thought he battled hard. It’s not an easy game to play against Colorado,” Boughner said.

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James Reimer will get Sunday’s start against Arizona, but it’s unclear how the Sharks will deploy their goalies next week. San Jose plays in Calgary and Edmonton on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, and returns home to play Anaheim next Saturday.

Reimer might play all three games as Adin Hill is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Still, its possible Sawchenko gets another game before the end of the month as the Sharks play back-to-back games on the road in Arizona and Colorado on March 30 and 31.

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