Avalanche-Sharks Preview

The Associated Press

The San Jose Sharks have been inconsistent of late and will be without one of their top goal scorers for an extended period, but they remain one of the NHL's best home teams.

The Colorado Avalanche are well aware of how tough it is to win at SAP Center.

San Jose seeks an 11th straight regular-season home victory over Colorado when the teams meet for the first time this season Monday night.

Thursday's 4-1 defeat at Los Angeles marked the sixth in eight games for the Sharks (22-8-6), and it proved to be especially upsetting after standout rookie Tomas Hertl - who has 15 goals and 10 assists - was lost for at least a month with a right knee injury.

Coach Todd McLellan shuffled his lines Saturday to compensate, and San Jose overcame a two-goal deficit to beat Dallas 3-2 in a shootout.

"We'll probably go through this for a little bit until we found something we feel comfortable with game in and game out," McLellan said. "Wasn't a Picasso by any means, but at this time of the year and maybe from now on through, to find a near-perfect game might exist."

The victory improved the Sharks to 7-0-1 over their last eight at home, and their 12-1-3 record on home ice is second only to Anaheim's 13-0-2 mark.

San Jose, which has fallen behind by two goals in three of its last four games, got the tying goal from Joe Pavelski in the third period Saturday.

"We haven't won many thirds in the last stretch," Pavelski said. "We kind of talked about being ready at the start of the third."

Joe Thornton, who isn't a fan of participating in the shootout, scored the winner in the tiebreaker for the second time this season.

"I've seen him win two games for us," McLellan said. "We may call it more often. That's what you expect from your captain, to step up in those situations and deliver, and he did."

Thornton has two goals and 11 assists during his 10-game point streak against Colorado, and the Sharks are 11-0-3 in the last 14 meetings that include the postseason.

San Jose has outscored the Avs 31-13 during its regular-season home winning streak in the series, and it has won 12 of the last 13 matchups at home, including playoffs.

Colorado (23-10-2) fell to 1-2-1 in its last four on the road with Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles. It overcame a two-goal deficit on power-play goals from Erik Johnson and Ryan O'Reilly.

The Avalanche, though, are 11-5-1 away from home after losing 20 of 24 on the road in last season's lockout-shortened campaign.

"I thought we can get out of this game with our head up," forward P.A. Parenteau said. "I thought we played a strong game. It's a really tough building to play in. Last year we probably would pack it in here, right? That's a big difference between the last year's team and this year's team."

Semyon Varlamov made 37 saves and is 3-0-2 with a 1.91 goals-against average in his last five. He's 2-3-1 with a 3.40 GAA in six career starts against the Sharks, who could counter with Antti Niemi after he got Saturday off.

Niemi is 6-0-2 with a 1.93 GAA in his last eight starts against Colorado.