SAN JOSE – Given the Sharks penchant for comebacks through their current playoff run, it sure started to look as though Brent Burns was going to tie things up in the final minutes of Game 2.
Having already set up the opening goal of the evening, Burns then found the back of the net twice in the third frame to bring San Jose within one goal of the visiting Colorado squad. Although San Jose ended up dropping that game 4-3, Burns ended the night with his second consecutive multi-point game.
Burns is heating up offensively, and the Avalanche know if they're going to outdo the Sharks in the second round, they'll have to keep an eye on Burns. With the high level he's playing at, however, Colorado is going to have their hands full.
"He's going to make an impact," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar told the press after Game 2. "We're trying to minimize that impact on a nightly basis."
Burns' big offensive push started in Game 6 of the Sharks' first-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Since then he has tallied at least one point in four straight games. Burns has a total of seven points over the first two games against the Avalanche. Whether he's setting goals up or scoring them himself, Burns is proving to be a force Colorado hasn't been able to contain.
Bednar, a former defenseman himself, broke down San Jose's first goal of Game 2, in which Evander Kane punched in the rebound of Burns' wrist shot from the blue line.
"I thought we were playing it perfectly," Bednar said. "Mikko (Rantanen) was all the way out to Burns. He gets within five feet of him, and Burns finds a way. Whether (the puck) goes through Mikko's legs or just gets by one leg to get to the front of the net – and we get beat on that box out and there's a rebound and they put it in. That's what we're trying to prevent.
"Mikko's got to find a way to get in that lane," Bednar continued. "But that's easier said than done against a guy like Burns."
Getting into that lane also comes with a price, as Alexander Kerfoot found out on Burns' first goal of the third period. When Kerfoot squared off to defend Burns' shot, the puck knocked his blade right off his skate. Erik Karlsson scooped up the puck after that and redistributed to Burns, who beat Philipp Grubauer five-hole from the faceoff circle.
"It's a tough break," Bednar said, recalling Kerfoot lying in the neutral zone without a blade on his right skate. "I don't know what else we can do on that."
Burns doesn't even have to break an opposing player's skate on a nightly basis to find the back of the net on a regularly. Since he's averaging roughly 29.81 minutes per night through nine games this postseason – including those two contests against Vegas that went into overtime – Burns has eveJJn more opportunities to contribute offensively for the Sharks.
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Not to mention that the current second-round series now shifts to Denver for Games 3 and 4, and Burns has registered 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) through 28 games played at Pepsi Center.
There's no doubt the Avs will be keeping a close eye on how to stop Burns as the teams head into Game 3 with the series tied at a game apiece. If Burns keeps playing at such a high level, though, he's going to be hard for Colorado to figure out.