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Sharks fall to Avalanche 4-3

  • Jason Demers, left, and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, right, fight for the puck in the third period on Saturday. (CHRIS SCHNEIDER / Associated Press)

DENVER — Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots, including several big saves down the stretch, to help the Colorado Avalanche hold off the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Saturday for their third straight win.

It was MacKinnon's first two-goal game. Jamie McGinn and Erik Johnson also scored for the Avalanche, who have 56 points at the halfway point of the season, second-most in team history behind the 2000-01 team.

Johnson's shot from the blue line at 5:45 of the second bounced past Antti Niemi and ended the goaltender's day. Niemi was pulled after allowing three goals and Alex Stalock took over, promptly allowing MacKinnon's second goal 14 seconds later to make it a 4-0 game.

Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture had goals for the Sharks.

Couture made it a one-goal game at 5:44 of the third when he knocked in a loose puck over a sprawled out Varlamov. The Sharks pulled Stalock with just over a minute left, only to struggle to get the puck into Colorado's zone. And when they did, Varlamov turned it aside.

Jan Hejda drew a penalty for interference with 4:02 remaining and Pavelski had a chance to tie it, getting open in the slot, but Varlamov stopped it with his chest, along with a rebound.

It was quite an entertaining second period for the fans who braved the chill and the snow to show up at the Pepsi Center.

The opening part of the period was all Avalanche as McGinn scored off a Sharks turnover, Johnson added another on a knuckleball of a shot that skipped past Niemi and MacKinnon knocked in a wrist shot to stake Colorado to a four-goal lead.

On the ensuing faceoff, Andrew Desjardins struck John Mitchell in the upper thigh with his stick, setting off a scuffle at center ice. That seemed to fire up the listless Sharks, who quickly scored two goals to make it a 4-2 game at the end of the second period.

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