Colorado Avalanche left wing Daniel Winnik, top left, scores past San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, of Finland,, center, and defenseman Jason Demers (60) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Sharks defended their coach they best way they knew how—with a dramatic comeback victory.
Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture scored in a 4:29 span of the third period to help San Jose overcome a two-goal deficit and beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 on Thursday night.
Ryane Clowe and Michal Handzus also scored to help the Sharks win for just the third time in 10 games.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan came under fire recently after a stretch of games in which they went 2-5-2 and saw their special-teams play fall to the bottom of the NHL rankings.
The Sharks put all that talk behind them with a spectacular series of late goals.
"Shift after shift, we just kept coming at them," captain Joe Thornton said. "It finally paid off. Things have not been going our way but it was only a matter of time before it shifted our way."
Paul Stastny scored twice, and Ryan O'Reilly and Daniel Winnik added goals for Colorado, up 4-2 after two periods. The Avalanche, coming off a shootout victory over San Jose in Denver on Tuesday night, have lost nine straight on the road.
"They started to play a lot harder in the third period," said Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 21 of the first 23 shots he faced before allowing three in 11 shots in the final period. "They shot a lot and tried to find every bounce."
Stastny and Winnik scored in the second to give Colorado the 4-2 lead.
Couture scored the winner with 8:31 remaining, redirecting a shot by Patrick Marleau to give the Sharks only their second victory when trailing after two periods.
"Our persistence was getting tested," Marleau said. "We stuck with it and got rewarded in the third period."
Stastny and O'Reilly scored on power plays in the first period, giving the Sharks nine power-play goals allowed over their last 10 games. San Jose ranks last in the NHL in penalty killing.
"We have to work better as a four-man unit," Marleau said. "We need to get the clears when we can. We did get a couple of clears in the third and that really helped."
Clowe opened the scoring for San Jose when he snapped in a rebound less than three minutes into the first period. Couture intercepted a pass to set up the goal.
The Sharks tied it early in the second when Handzus converted a pass from Martin Havlat.
Stastny gave the Avalanche a 3-2 lead with a backhand shot for his first multi-goal game of the season.
Winnik added his goal with 1:39 left in the second period.
Havlat stole a pass from Avalanche defender Jan Hejda to set up Burns' goal—his first in 12 games—seven minutes into the final period.
"I don't know what to say really," Hejda said. "It was a big mistake in the third period."
Pavelski scored 1:29 later on a rebound.
Special teams play has been a disappointment of late for the Sharks, who have scored two power-play goals over their last 32 opportunities after going 0 for 3 against Colorado.
The Avalanche did not allow a power-play goal for the first time in seven games.
Notes: David Van Der Gulik had an assist in his first game back in the NHL and has four points in seven career games with the Avalanche. ... Havlat hasn't scored a goal in his last 17 games and has only one this season. ... San Jose C Michal Handzus has points in three straight and six of his last eight games. ... Avalanche F Gabriel Landeskog hasn't scored in his last 17 games. ... Sharks goalie Antii Niemi made 23 saves for the victory.