David Aebischer was chased from the game in the second, Matthew Barnaby started yappin and flappin in the late third and throughout it all Patrick Marleau scored, once, twice make it three times as San Jose laid a bit of a whuppin’ on the Avalanche.
Marleau scored at the ten minute mark of the first to begin the Sharks scoring deluge, his goals followed by Vincent Damphouse and Scott Hannan all before the teams retired for their first intermission rest. With a 3-0 lead San Jose looked in complete control of game one of what is expected to be a high scoring series. Steve Konowalchuk got one goal back midway through the second, but it wasn’t too long before Marleau was back on the attack. The Shark captain scored two more goals within one and half minutes putting the Sharks up 5-1. Sending David Aebischer to the end of the Avalanche bench to watch Tommy Salo take over the net for the rest of the game.
With the big lead came the chippy play, everyone’s favourite agitator Matthew Barnaby started yapping at various Sharks through the rest of the second and into the third. Peter Forsberg took advantage of Jonathon Cheechoo’s penalty to score an early goal in the third making it 5-2 with nineteen minutes to go. But that would be it for the normally explosive Avalanche offense; the Sharks aided by outstanding goaltending from Evgeni Nabakov shut the Av attack down, frustrating their scoring lines throughout the third.
The ugliness boiled over as the last two minutes of play as Matthew Barnaby instigated one of three simulataneous fights to wind down the game. For his matchmaking skills Barnaby got tossed from the game, joining him on the way out were Chris Gratton, Ossi Vaananen and San Jose’s Curtis Brown. Just as things settled down, Bob Boughner decided to enforce a bit more Avalanche justice; he too got a ten second head start on the showers.
Marleau’s three goal performance was his second three goal display in the 2004 playoffs. His speed and puck sense make San Jose a very effective team coming out of their own end. Colorado will have to find a way to slow him down to keep the Goals Against low.
Game two is Saturday afternoon and it will be interesting to see which goaltender Tony Granato decides to go with. Aebischer got rattled early in this game and never seemed to bounce back. If Granato wants to shake things up a bit starting Tommy Salo might not be a bad ideas. But it really won’t matter unless the Avalanche can find the net. With 28 shots in Thursday’s game they couldn’t find the answer to Nabakov. Colorado on the other hand seemed to offer an open book test on Aebischer. Goaltending and goal scoring will make the difference in this series, if game one is any indication; the Sharks are well ahead in both categories.