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Avalanche taking advantage in 'weird series'

DENVER -- Adam Foote has won two Stanley Cups while playing in 1,107 regular-season games and another 167 playoff games, so you figure he's probably seen it all.

Maybe now he has, considering all the wackiness that has taken place in the first three games of this Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the eighth-seeded Colorado Avalanche and the top-seeded San Jose Sharks.

"It's been a weird series," the Avalanche captain said. "It's been the weirdest series I have played."

The Avalanche will take a 2-1 lead into Tuesday night's Game 4 at the Pepsi Center, thanks to a couple of fortunate bounces in Games 1 and 3.

Chris Stewart banked a shot from the corner off the skate of Sharks defenseman Rob Blake and into the net with 49.3 seconds left in the series opener for a 2-1 Avalanche win. Then, rookie Ryan O'Reilly tipped San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle's attempted clear around the boards past a stunned Evgeni Nabokov 51 seconds into overtime Sunday for a 1-0 victory.

"Look at the first game; we had a lucky break there," O'Reilly said. "That's how the goals are going to be. Every goal's not going to be a highlight-reel goal. Me personally, I just forechecked and I got a lucky bounce. Some days you get them and some days you don't."

In Game 2, the Sharks overcame five one-goal deficits. Joe Pavelski scored with 31.3 seconds remaining in regulation and Devin Setoguchi netted the winner on a deflection 5:22 into overtime for a wild 6-5 victory.

Yet Sunday's conclusion was the strangest one yet.

"It's bizarre, eh?" Foote said. "I didn't even see the goal. I was going to the bench and all of a sudden the crowd went nuts. I was wondering, ‘Did someone get hit?' I turned around and the guys were jumping up and down."

Either team could be up or down by three games, even though the Sharks dominated play the past two contests, overwhelming the Avalanche with a 103-39 advantage in official shots on goal.

Coach Joe Sacco acknowledged the Avalanche can't depend as much on goalie Craig Anderson as they did Sunday. San Jose outshot Colorado 42-7 in the second and third periods, and 51-17 for the game.

"We want to make his job easier than it was, no question," Sacco said. "In order for us to do that, we have to try and stay out of the box. When you're killing penalty after penalty, the momentum changes. They're a good team, and you can't take that away from them. We're certainly looking forward to the next game and we'll make some adjustments. We'll try to make sure we're playing in their end more."

It's possible the Avalanche, who had an optional practice Monday, could get some reinforcements for Game 4.

Three of the team's five injured forwards -- Milan Hejduk, Kevin Porter and Ryan Stoa -- are listed as day-to-day.

Hejduk suffered an upper-body injury when he collided with teammate Paul Stastny early in the first period Sunday and didn't return. Porter was scratched because of an upper-body injury and Stoa sustained a lower-body injury in the second period.

David Jones (knee surgery) and Peter Mueller (concussion) still aren't ready to play. The Avalanche added depth Monday by summoning defenseman Brian Fahey and forward Wes Montgomery from Lake Erie in the American Hockey League.

The injuries to Hejduk and Stoa forced Sacco to juggle line combinations throughout Sunday's game.

"I think I had a different linemate every single shift," said rookie center Matt Duchene, who didn't have a shot on goal. "It's tough to get familiarity when you're playing with different guys. I think that was the case for the whole team."

Fortunately for the Avalanche, Anderson played the game of his life. His 51 saves were the most for a Colorado goalie in a home playoff game and the fourth-highest total in Avalanche postseason history.

Asked if he was weary, Anderson said: "Very refreshed. I think I'd be more tired if we lost."

Anderson gave plenty of credit to his teammates, who blocked 22 shots and killed six San Jose power plays.

"The guys battled hard, blocked a lot of shots," he said. "We did a great job on the penalty kill. Obviously we'd like to put some more pucks on the net, but we got the one that mattered.

"Everything I didn't see was blocked. The guys were paying the price in front of me. You can't praise them enough for what they're doing in front of me. When guys are paying the price, it lifts my spirits and lifts the other guys' spirits. We just know deep down that everyone's giving it their all."