SAN JOSE -- Nothing comes easily to the Sharks in February.
Tuesday night, they managed to skate away with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche at HP Pavilion after coming within less than four minutes of a regulation win.
But after going 1-6-3 so far this month, Todd McLellan wasn't going to complain about how his team got the two points that have been so elusive as of late.
"Big win, real big win. It's so hard to get a win right now," the Sharks coach said. "I'm glad our group got the reward tonight because we probably deserved it."
San Jose got the victory on shootout goals by Michal Handzus and Patrick Marleau while Colorado netminder Semyon Varlamov stopped Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi allowed one to PA Parenteau, but stopped shots by Milan Hejduk, Gabriel Landeskog and John Mitchell.
What may have made the victory even a little more sweet for San Jose was the fact its goals in regulation came from two players who needed to find the back of the net -- Logan Couture, who had gone eight games without one, and TJ Galiardi, whose first of the season provided the secondary scoring the team desperately needs.
Chuck Kobasew and Mark Olver scored for Colorado.
The Sharks were very aware that their 1-4-1 trip had dropped them below the cutoff point for playoff teams, and that things had reached the point where their first game in 17 nights at HP Pavilion might not exactly provide a warm reception.
"Being at home doesn't guarantee anything," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "The crowds are probably just as anxious as we are and not overly thrilled about what's going on."
That crowd did get something to cheer about only 25 seconds into the game.
On the game's first shift, an Avalanche turnover went right to Joe Thornton. He found Couture coming through the slot and he nailed his seventh goal of the season after a mini-drought.
"I always put a lot of pressure on myself and when the team's not scoring and I'm not scoring, you want to help the team out," Couture said. "Hopefully I can build off this and get a couple more."
The Avalanche got that one back at 12:13 of the first when the Sharks struggled to clear the puck out of their own zone. A rebound of a shot from the point ended up in Jason Demers' skates and before he could do anything, Kobasew punched it into the net.
San Jose finally got the secondary scoring it's been looking for all season to take a 2-1 lead at 2:55 of the second period, and it took a makeshift line to do it.
"We wanted to distribute some speed and some size out a little bit more. Just a hunch," McLellan said of his decision to drop James Sheppard to the fourth line where he played alongside Galiardi and Adam Burish.
Sheppard did most of the work on the goal, taking the puck from behind the Colorado net and sending a nifty backhand pass into the crease, where Galiardi converted it for his first goal of the season and first against his former team.
The fact that Galiardi scored against his former team, he acknowledged, made it a little extra special. But more important was the ability to provide the secondary scoring the team has had trouble finding this season.
"It's obviously been something we've struggled with this season and we've been looking for chemistry on our third and fourth lines," said Galiardi, who noted that he, Burish and Sheppard were pretty excited to learn McLellan was putting them together on the same line.
Still, he added, it was too soon to say the problem had been solved.
"It's pretty early, we had one goal," Galiardi said. "It's about stringing it together now."
The Sharks held the Avalanche off for most of the third period, but a shot by Colorado defenseman Hejda that caromed off the back boards and was poked into the net by Olver survived a video review and Colorado made it a 2-2 game at 16:44.
A high-sticking penalty to Avalanche forward Jamie McGinn gave San Jose a power play for the final 1:02 of regulation and carried into the overtime period. Thornton came close to ending the game 59 seconds into the extra period, but Varlamov robbed him with a flash of the glove, setting the stage for the shootout.
Before the game, Landeskog dismissed talk that there might be any payback.
"I don't know," he said. "I think as a hockey team we've moved on."
Matt Irwin was called up from Worcester to replace Burns, but did not play.
Detroit (9-7-3) at Sharks (9-6-3), 7:30 p.m., CSNCA
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