Avs visit Sharks for pivotal Game 5 showdown
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Anybody following the Stanley Cup playoffs has seen Nathan MacKinnon dominating games with his blink-and-he's-gone speed and high-skill plays.
MacKinnon provided a rarely seen weapon in his arsenal while leading the Colorado Avalanche to their 3-0 Game 4 victory that evened the series with the San Jose Sharks at 2-2 -- a gritty goal. MacKinnon's winning tally was a result of being parked at the doorstep and batting home a rebound.
"That's a Sid thing," MacKinnon said in reference to his good friend, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. "That's not me. One of the first times I've ever done that. It felt good."
As the Avalanche and Sharks ready for Saturday's crucial Game 5 in San Jose, one of the big storylines is whether the Sharks can contain MacKinnon, who has the ability to take over games along with fellow forward standouts Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog.
"Thank God he's on our team, because he'd made a lot of us look silly, that's for sure," Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson said. "But what a player. He's clearly on a different level right now and just feeling it. He's going to take us as far as he wants to."
MacKinnon and Rantanen lead all playoff performers with 13 goals. MacKinnon is also riding an eight-game point scoring streak, in which he's scored three game-winning goals, numbers that are putting him alongside former Avalanche players such as Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg, who were key players in their Stanley Cup-winning seasons.
"That's the goal," MacKinnon said. "If we don't ever win one (Cup), no one will really care about my eight-game point streak. If I get a 20-game point streak, we'll probably be in the Final. That's the way I look at it."
Stanley Cup talk is a little early right now. After all, the veteran-laden Sharks still have home-ice advantage in what's been a back-and-forth series in which teams are trading victories, with the Sharks winning the first and third games and Avs taking the second and fourth.
"It was a good opportunity for us, but it's supposed to be tough," Sharks goalie Martin Jones said. "We're 2-2 here, we've got home ice the rest of the way, so just got to take care of business next game."
Added defenseman Erik Karlsson: "We're still right in it. We just couldn't find a way to score a goal to get some momentum going. That's the way it is sometimes. We just have to learn from it and go back to San Jose and put up a better effort next game."
In what's been such an even series so far, one area for the Sharks to improve and make the difference is their power play. San Jose -- which scored four man-advantage markers in that thrilling Game 7 win over Vegas to close out the first round -- has just one such goal in four games against the Avs.
A big factor in those struggles is being without injured captain Joe Pavelski, but the Sharks have plenty of talent to overcome that loss.
"It's nice to have him on the power play because he can tip every puck and he knows where to be to score goals," Tomas Hertl told the San Jose Mercury News. "We had a couple of opportunities. We just have to handle it a little bit better."
--Field Level Media
Updated May 4, 2019