DENVER (AP) — The new guy played pretty well, especially on very little sleep.
Welcome to town, Shawn Matthias. The games aren’t always this wild.
Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene scored in the shootout, Matthias had a goal in his Colorado debut and the Avalanche beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Wednesday night.
Acquired in a trade with Toronto on Sunday, Matthias didn’t get into town until around 1 a.m. Wednesday. A quick practice with his new teammates and he was up to speed.
That’s pretty much all it took. He scored on his first shot.
“Our line was buzzing,” Matthias said. “It was my first game so there were a couple mistakes out there, but it felt good overall to be out there, playing hard, playing for games that matter. It was a great team win.”
Calvin Pickard came up big in the shootout by stopping two shots. He made 30 saves filling in for starter Semyon Varlamov, who’s been fighting with the flu.
Gabriel Landeskog and Jarome Iginla had goals in regulation for Colorado. It was Iginla’s 607th career NHL goal.
“Tonight was a strong game from start to finish,” Landeskog said.
Matthias wasn’t the only one to make a favorable first impression. Nick Spaling scored on his first shot in a Sharks sweater, too. Both were acquired in separate deals with Toronto earlier in the week.
Brent Burns and Joel Ward also scored for the Sharks, with Ward’s goal tying it with 1:31 remaining. Martin Jones made 38 saves, and the Sharks finished their trip with a 3-1-1 mark.
“Some of the cities we’re in and how desperate some of the teams are that we’re playing, it’s a good road trip,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “The guys found a way to get some points. That’s important.”
Landeskog gave the Avs a 3-2 lead with 8:15 remaining when he poked the puck through Jones’ pads. San Jose pulled Jones for an extra skater with just over 2 minutes remaining and Ward scored the equalizer when he tipped in a shot.
Next up for Colorado is an outdoor game against Detroit on Saturday at Coors Field. This victory made the lead-up a little more enjoyable.
“We want to make sure we go into this weekend’s festivities and the outdoor game with a win in the back pocket,” Landeskog said.
“And make sure we go out and enjoy this weekend.”
Burns gave San Jose a 2-1 advantage early in the third period when his shot from behind the net clanged off the skate of defenseman Erik Johnson and bounced past Pickard.
The lead was short-lived as Iginla scored on a power play less than 4 minutes later. Iginla moved within a goal of tying Dino Ciccarelli for 17th place on the career list.
Spaling scored his inaugural goal with the Sharks when he sent a shot over the glove of Pickard just 2:10 into the game.
Later in the period, Matthias added his first goal with the Avalanche on a backhanded shot to tie the game.
Last Saturday, as teammates in Toronto, Spaling and Matthias both had goals against Philadelphia. Spaling even set up Matthias’ tally.
The next day the tandem was broken up when Matthias was dealt to Colorado for forward Colin Smith and a fourth-round pick. Not done dealing, the Maple Leafs sent Spaling and defenseman Roman Polak to the Sharks for Raffi Torres and draft picks.
It’s been such a whirlwind for Matthias that he’s not even sure his parents know he’s been traded. They’re currently on vacation in Jamaica and won’t be back until the weekend.
“Should be pretty funny when they get back,” Matthias said. “I was really happy about the news. There’s a lot of skill on this team, a lot of youth.”
NOTES: San Jose is now 25-2-2 this season when scoring first. ... Sharks head trainer Ray Tufts worked his 1,500th NHL game Wednesday. ... Colorado sent F Andreas Martinsen to San Antonio of the American Hockey League. ... MacKinnon had a season-high eight shots on goal. ... Varlamov is slated to start in goal Saturday for the outdoor game.