Avalanche-Sharks Preview


Coach Todd McLellan says his offensively challenged San Jose Sharks need to start picking up points quickly if they plan on making their way up the standings in this lockout-shortened season.

That hasn't been much of an issue when facing the Colorado Avalanche recently.

San Jose looks to earn at least one point for the 13th consecutive regular-season meeting when it hosts Colorado on Tuesday night.

With their 7-0-0 start seemingly a distant memory, the Sharks' once-potent offense has scored more than two goals only once while going 1-6-3 since - including Saturday's 3-1 loss at Dallas to close out a 1-4-1 road trip.

San Jose (8-6-3) outscored opponents 27-12 during the winning streak, but it's been outscored 25-12 over the last 10. Patrick Marleau, who had the team's lone goal in Friday's 2-1 loss at Chicago, scored for the second straight game.

"You have to put points in the bank, and we're not doing it right now," McLellan said. "You can't win games scoring one goal."

The Sharks are a dismal 3 for 46 on the power play over their last 10 games - a far cry from the 12-for-32 clip over their first five.

"They biggest difference is the power play (isn't) clicking," McLellan said. "We played a very fast game in the first six or seven games. We should be quick enough with the people we have and the way we play."

One of the more disappointing aspects of the slump, McLellan said, is that San Jose has been playing solid defensively. It has allowed three goals or fewer six times over the last nine.

Antti Niemi is 1-4-3 during the skid despite a 1.96 goals-against average in that stretch.

"This team needs to find ways to win. Scoring is part of it," McLellan said. "I put up some numbers and asked our team, 'Can we win like that?' And one player astutely picked up that those were number of goals we were giving up. So yes, we can win playing well defensively, but we've got to find ways to score goals."

The Sharks, though, will be without Ryan Clowe as he serves the last of a two-game suspension, and McLellan still is considering who will replace Clowe on a line centered by Logan Couture.

"We're struggling scoring goals right now, and (Clowe's suspension) means someone else gets to play with (Couture) and that's not a bad option," McClellan said. "We can rally around Clowe's absence and everyone pull their socks up and contribute a little bit more."

San Jose has won 10 of the last 12 meetings with Colorado, including postseason. Marleau scored twice as the Sharks improved to 9-0-3 in the last 12 regular-season contests against the Avalanche with a 4-0 win Jan. 26.

Colorado (7-8-2) has lost two straight after a 4-3 overtime loss to Anaheim on Sunday despite leading 2-0 after the first period.

"Right now our focus is trying to gain points," coach Joe Sacco said. "Unfortunately we fell short on picking up the second one."

P.A. Parenteau ended a seven-game goal-scoring drought for the Avalanche, who have allowed at least four goals in four of their last five games.

Semyon Varlamov beat St. Louis 1-0 in the other contest Wednesday, and he could be back in net after Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 35 saves Sunday.

Varlamov, though, has a 4.92 GAA while dropping his last three starts versus San Jose.