Sharks fall to Avalanche, leaving series tied 2-2

Any thoughts that the Sharks might have had about having a significantly easier time with Colorado in the Western Conference semifinals than they did with Vegas in their first-round, seven-game series were squashed Thursday night in Denver.

Nathan MacKinnon kept up his scoring spree with a second-period goal, Philipp Grubauer stopped 32 shots for his first career playoff shutout and the Avalanche beat San Jose 3-0 to tie the series at two games apiece.

MacKinnon has at least a point in eight straight games. It’s the longest streak by a Colorado player in the postseason since Peter Forsberg had a point in eight straight in 2002.

Colin Wilson gave Colorado a two-goal cushion with a power-play goal early in the third period. Wilson’s score was set up by a no-look, between-the-legs pass from Mikko Rantanen, who registered two assists. Erik Johnson added an empty-netter with 1:09 remaining.

Game 5 is Saturday in San Jose.

In an attempt to bottle up the speedy MacKinnon, the Sharks kept rolling out their top defensive pair of Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. MacKinnon rarely had a moment when he wasn’t shadowed.

Still, he found ways to shake free, including in the second period when the puck bounced off the body of Sharks goalie Martin Jones and into the air. MacKinnon was on the spot, taking one whack at the puck and then another to send it past Jones. It was MacKinnon’s sixth goal in this postseason. He also has 13 points.

One of Grubauer’s top stops was near the end of the second period with Gustav Nyquist on a breakaway. Grubauer went into a full-out stretch in order to thwart Nyquist with his right pad.

Grubauer and the Avalanche defense found a way to corral Sharks forward Logan Couture, the leading goal scorer in the postseason who was coming off a hat trick in Game 3.

Bruins 4, Jackets 1: Tuukka Rask stopped 39 shots and Boston scored two power-play goals to beat host Columbus and even the Eastern Conference semifinals at 2-2.

Patrice Bergeron had two goals, David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist and Sean Kuraly also tallied for the Bruins, who had lost the previous two games in the series.

“I don’t think they got too many rebound opportunities,” Rask said. “That’s how they’ve been scoring. They were trying to play down low, pushing more pucks in there but I thought we protected the house well; I saw every puck. That was huge.”

Game 5 is Saturday in Boston.

“It’s the series, man,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said, “It’s 2-2, and this is what we thought it was going to be, so I’m not too concerned.”

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