9:30 P.M.: Sharks, Avalanche Take Festivities To Denver For Game 3

For more, visit our Sharks blog, Fear The Fin, and our Avalanche blog, Mile High Hockey.

Denver (Sports Network) - The top-seeded San Jose Sharks needed late heroics to even their Western Conference quarterfinals series at one game apiece and will try to take a lead in the best-of-seven set tonight, when they visit the Colorado Avalanche for Game 3 at Pepsi Center.

The Sharks, who were knocked out by eighth-seeded Anaheim in the first round a year ago, lost Game 1 of this series 2-1 and was trailing the second meeting by a goal heading into the final minute of regulation.

However, Joe Pavelski scored with 31.3 seconds left in regulation to send the game to OT, and Devin Setoguchi scored on the power play 5:22 into the extra session to lift San Jose to a much-needed 6-5 win at HP Pavilion.

The comeback win could go a long way towards helping the Sharks avoid a second straight first-round exit against an eight seed. Last year, the Sharks entered the playoffs fresh off a 117-point season that netted them the Presidents' Trophy and high expectations. But San Jose dropped the first two games against the Anaheim Ducks and wound up losing the series in six.

Despite winning the last three Pacific Division titles the Sharks have been a disappointing playoff team in recent years, having not made it past the second round of the postseason since losing to Calgary in the 2004 Western Conference finals.

Colorado, meanwhile, is back in the playoffs just one season after finishing last in the Western Conference with 69 points. The Avs would have liked to have a 2-0 series lead heading into Denver, but instead Colorado will try to avoid falling behind for the time in the series tonight.

Down 5-4 late in the third, the Sharks shrugged off boos from the home crowd and came through with the tying goal. With time winding down, Craig Anderson was caught out of position after a save and Pavelski fired the rebound into a half-open net with 31.3 ticks showing.

Then, 4:28 into OT, Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote was called for interference, giving the Sharks a power play. Ryane Clowe came out with the puck after a battle on the boards before sending a shot on net. Setoguchi was stationed in front and redirected the wrister through the pads of Anderson, whose 46-save effort went for naught.

Setoguchi also scored in regulation for the Sharks, whose only lead in the game came at the end. Manny Malhotra, Rob Blake and Scott Nichol also tallied for San Jose, which got 17 saves on 22 shots from Evgeni Nabokov.

"I think we showed the team experience," Nabokov said. "They definitely had their game on and did a hell of a job by putting the pucks in the net and showing their character. It was really a great game."

Chris Stewart, who scored the game-winner in the series opener, lit the lamp twice for the Avs, who also received goals from Kyle Cumiskey, Milan Hejduk and Brandon Yip.

Yip also added an assist in Friday's game and will continue to fill in for Peter Mueller on Colorado's second line. Mueller, who had 20 points in 15 games for Colorado after coming over in a trade with Phoenix, has missed the last six games since suffering a concussion in a regular-season game against the Sharks on April 4. Mueller, who sustained the concussion on a hit by San Jose's Blake, is sidelined indefinitely.

The Avalanche are trying to become the third eight seed in five seasons to knock off the top-seeded club. However, the Sharks had the better of the season series, going 2-1-1 and winning both games in San Jose.

These two clubs are meeting in the postseason for the fourth time, with the last matchup coming in 2004. The Sharks won that series, 4-2, in the semifinals before losing in six games to the Flames in the conference finals.

The Avs, who will also host Game 4 on Tuesday, were 24-14-3 as the home team during the regular season, while San Jose had a strong 24-14-3 road record.

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