The first three games of the Colorado Avalanche playoff series against the San Jose Sharks turned out like a classic Clint Eastwood spaghetti western:
The Good - Game One
The Avalanche held the Sharks in check, starting off with a solid penalty kill early in the first period. They kept that pace up throughout the game, actually outshooting the Sharks 30-26. And when the Avs scored the game-winning goal with 50 seconds left in the third period, they showed that they could compete with the top-seeded Sharks. By winning this game, the Avs erased San Jose's home ice advantage.
The Bad - Game Two
Colorado was outshot 52-22. They were called for 8 penalties compared to 5 for the Sharks. They were outhit and outhustled. Despite that, the Avs were 32 seconds away from winning the game and taking a 2-0 lead in the series when they let in the tying goal. They then let the Sharks to get the game winner in OT. The young Avs need to learn how to finish a game when they have the lead.
The Ugly - Game Three
The Avs came out strong in front of a sold-out home crowd and took the play to the Sharks for the first half of the first period. San Jose then took over and dominated the play for the rest of the game, outshooting Colorado 41 to 7 through the second and third periods. Only an NHL playoff record 50 regulation saves by Craig Anderson kept the Avs in the game.
The game-winning goal came 51 seconds into overtime and can best be described as a fluke. The Sharks Dan Boyle was trying to send the puck behind his own net but his errant pass slipped past a surprised Evgeni Nabokov to give the Avs the win. It was the epitome of the old adage "I'd rather be lucky than good".
Despite outshooting the Avs 103 to 39 in Games Two and Three, the Sharks have never led in regulation time in this series. The only time they have been ahead is when they won in overtime in Game Two. The eighth-seeded Avs are managing to control the series in the only place it counts, the scoreboard. They truly are "winning ugly".
If the Avs can take care of business and win Game Four Tuesday night, they will only have to win one of the remaining three games to win the series and move on in the playoffs.