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The Colorado Avalanche, currently occupying the lowest seed in the Western Conference, have defied expectations all season, so why would things change for their matchup last night against the top seed? Their tenacity paid off when a fluke goal with less than a minute left in the game gave the Avs an improbable 2-1 win against the San Jose Sharks.
Just 28 seconds into the game, it looked like San Jose was going to crush the Avs’ playoff ambitions, taking an early hooking penalty on Chris Stewart and hurling six quality shots at Avs goalie Craig Anderson. As he has throughout the season, Anderson stayed strong and held off the attack (game recap via Mile High Hockey).
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(The San Jose Mercury News notes that the Sharks are used to seemingly inferior teams coming into their arena and gaining the advantage. Last year, the Sharks were among the best teams in the league when the number-eight-seed Anaheim Ducks came in and took the first-round series.)
And while The Denver Post thinks the Avs dominated much of last night’s game, San Jose coach Todd McLellan tells NHL.com a different story. But it doesn’t really matter. The Avs won and now carry a crucial 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series going into Friday’s game.