SAN JOSE – Goalie Mackenzie Blackwood had a San Jose Sharks debut for the ages on Saturday.
But for anyone who has watched the Sharks over the last two-plus seasons, the end result, despite Blackwood’s brilliance, was all too familiar.
Blackwood finished had a remarkable 51 saves before allowing a shootout goal to Mikko Rantanen in a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche in front of an announced sellout crowd of 17,435 at SAP Center.
With the Sharks on their heels late in the third period, Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar scored with 1:26 left in regulation time to spoil Blackwood’s shutout bid. After a scoreless five-minute overtime in which the Sharks had a full two-minute power play, Rantanen scored in the second round of the shootout.
Conversely, Alexander Barabanov, William Eklund, and Mike Hoffman all failed in their shootout attempts to beat Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev, who finished with 20 saves.
The Sharks have now lost 30 games in overtime or a shootout since the start of the 2021-2022 season.
Per the NHL, Blackwood’s 51 saves were the most by any goaltender in his debut with a team since the 1955-56 season. It was also the second-most saves in a regular season home game in Sharks history, bettered only by Jeff Hackett’s 57-save effort against the Los Angeles Kings at the Cow Palace on Dec. 26, 1992.
“Sometimes pucks go your way,” Blackwood said. “I’ve been working hard with the goalie coach here and getting a lot of good work in, and I feel good about where my game is at.”
Blackwood, acquired this summer from the New Jersey Devils, made 31 saves in the first two periods, including nine on the penalty kill, as the Sharks dropped to 0-1-1 on the season.
Thomas Bordeleau scored in the first period his first career NHL goal. Blackwood fell just short of his career high of 52 saves set on Feb. 16, 2020, against the Columbus Blue Jackets when he played for the Devils.
The Sharks played most of the game with just five defensemen as Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game midway through the first period and did not return. The Sharks announced just before the start of the third period that Vlasic would not come back to the game, and Sharks coach David Quinn did not have an update on Vlasic after the game.
“Going down to five defensemen against that team, that’s a lot of minutes for your d-corps,” Quinn said. “That’s probably one of the reasons they were so dominant in the third period. Our defenseman looked tired.”
Just before Makar’s goal, Matt Benning had his stick break and the Sharks couldn’t the puck out of their own zone. They also lost a faceoff to start the sequence as the Avalanche kept up the pressure.
The Sharks were outshot 19-4 in the third period.
“There are things we have to do better,” Quinn said. “We have to be better structurally, that’s really all there is to it. These guys understand the responsibilities. Unfortunately, they get the goal because people weren’t in the right places before the shot was taken.”
Bordeleau’s first NHL goal came at the 8:42 mark of the first period.
Hoffman won a race to the puck near the side boards and tipped it back to the point for Matt Benning, who one-timed toward the Avalanche net. Bordeleau, standing in the slot, reached out and tipped the puck past Georgiev to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead.
The goal came in Bordeleau’s 18th career NHL game. He played in eight games toward the end of the 2021-22 season shortly after he turned pro following two years at Michigan, and in eight more last season.
“I never really felt the pressure to score,” Bordeleau said. “I was just kind of concentrating on other stuff. Obviously, getting some goals here and there is fun but I need to grow my game beyond that a little bit. So yeah, I was happy. But I wish we could’ve had the win. It would’ve felt better.”
Blackwood figured to be under siege Saturday considering some of the games the Sharks have played against the Avalanche in recent years.
The Sharks entered the game with a record of 2-12-2 against the Avalanche since the start of the 2019-2020 season. That includes an 0-5-1 streak over the last two years when San Jose finished 22nd and 29th in the NHL’s overall standings. Colorado won the Stanley Cup in 2022 and finished atop the Central Division last season.
Just last year, in going 0-2-1 against the Avalanche, the Sharks were outshot 116 to 67. In those three games, Nathan MacKinnon had nine points, Rantanen had seven and Makar had five.