Sharks-Avalanche Preview


The Colorado Avalanche just snapped the longest NHL points streak to open a season.

Now, they'll try to end the San Jose Sharks' 13-game streak in this series with at least a point.

Colorado goes for its first victory in five tries over the Sharks on Sunday night when these clubs close out their season series in Denver.

After losing 3-2 at league-best Chicago on Wednesday when enforcer Dan Carcillo scored the game-winner past Semyon Varlamov with 49.3 seconds left, Colorado (9-10-4) ended Chicago's league-record 24-game points streak to open the season with Friday's 6-2 home win.

The Avs had dropped three straight and six of seven.

"It's a great confidence booster," said center Matt Duchene, who had three assists and a goal off a pass from defenseman Erik Johnson, who had been sidelined the previous 11 games with a concussion. "It shows us we can play with anybody in this league."

Colorado should have plenty of confidence playing in Denver, where it has won a season-best four straight to improve to 7-2-1. The Avs' last five-game winning streak on home ice was an eight-game run from Nov. 30-Dec. 23, 2011.

Colorado, though, continues its three-game homestand with no regulation victories – not including the playoffs - over San Jose (11-7-5) since a 5-2 victory in Denver on Oct. 1, 2009.

The Sharks have a 46-27 scoring edge during that 10-0-3 stretch after defeating the visiting Avs 4-0 on Jan. 26 and 3-2 in a shootout exactly a month later.

San Jose, though, arrives following back-to-back defeats. Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis was especially hard on the club after it gave up a two-goal third-period advantage.

"You're up 3-1 going into the third, it's time to step on the throat, and game over,'' Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "…To let it slip like that is disappointing.''

The Sharks, though, have to be pleased that they reached the three-goal mark for just the fourth time in 16 games as Logan Couture, Scott Gomez and Matt Irwin each found the back of the net.

However, San Jose's usually stout defense has yielded more goals (eight) in the last two games than in any stretch that length this season.

It's uncertain if coach Todd McClellan will give rookie Alex Stalock his first start after he stopped six of seven shots in his NHL debut on Saturday when Antti Niemi was pulled after giving up two third-period goals.

Stalock was called up on Saturday from AHL Worcester in place of Thomas Greiss, who suffered a neck injury in the previous game – Wednesday's 4-1 loss at Calgary.

With 25 saves last month, Niemi improved to 5-0-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average versus Colorado since he joined the Sharks in 2010-11.

Varlamov, 7-2-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average at home, has yielded 15 goals while losing the last four games between these clubs – all played in San Jose.

Colorado posted a 4-3 shootout victory in the Sharks' last visit on Dec. 13, 2011.