While the San Jose Sharks intend to better their playoff
position, the Colorado Avalanche must find a way to avoid falling
further out of contention in the Western Conference.
The Sharks look to continue their recent surge while trying to
hand the visiting Avalanche a 10th consecutive loss Saturday
San Jose (32-21-6), in the midst of an 11-2-1 stretch that
followed a six-game skid, is tied for fourth place in the
“Everyone realizes the standings and how tight the West is,”
forward Joe Pavelski said. “Every game has a playoff
Once in the thick of the race, Colorado (25-26-7) is 11 points
out of the final playoff spot and mired in its longest losing
streak since the franchise relocated from Quebec prior to the
Though the Avalanche earned their first point since Jan. 24 in
Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Pittsburgh, they remain in
position to go winless in 10 straight for the first time since the
Nordiques went 0-8 with two ties Jan. 28-Feb. 15, 1992.
“We don’t feel sorry for ourselves,” said coach Joe Sacco, whose
team has been outscored 38-14 during the nine-game skid. “No one
else certainly will.”
The Sharks won’t as they try for a fifth consecutive
regular-season home victory over the Avalanche, who won 2-1 at San
Jose in Game 1 of a 2010 first-round playoff series.
Craig Anderson stymied the Sharks in that contest but won’t have
the chance Saturday after Colorado traded the struggling netminder
to Ottawa for goalie Brian Elliott on Friday.
Elliott, who went 13-19-8 with a 3.19 goals-against average for
the Senators this season, will not be with the team Saturday.
Peter Budaj will try to avoid a sixth straight loss overall and
improve on his 0-3-1 record and 2.98 GAA at San Jose.
“The (No. 1) job’s open,” Sacco said. “We’re going to give Brian
an opportunity to see where he’s at and how he fits in and give him
a chance to play.”
To help either goaltender, the Avalanche also acquired former
2006 No. 1 overall pick and defenseman Erik Johnson from the St.
Louis Blues on Saturday in a four-player trade. Johnson, a member
of the U.S. Olympic team that won a silver medal at the Olympics,
has five goals and 14 assists in 55 games.
“We are excited to be adding a top young defenseman in this
league, a player who will have an impact on our blue line for
several years to come,” Avs general manager Greg Sherman said in a
The Avalanche, who also received Jay McClement and a first-round
pick in either 2011 or 2012, sent Chris Stewart and Kevin
Shattenkirk to St. Louis.
Pavelski has two goals with an assist as these teams have split
two games in Colorado this season. He had one of each as the Sharks
held off Washington 3-2 on Thursday for their second straight
Dany Heatley, who scored San Jose’s first power-play goal in six
games Thursday, has a goal and six assists in his last five
regular-season games versus Colorado.
Antti Niemi has a 1.43 GAA while winning five of seven overall,
and he’s 1-1-1 with a 3.25 GAA versus Colorado – all with
Though San Jose could be without defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
after he suffered an upper-body injury against the Capitals, Ian
White might be in the lineup a day after the Sharks acquired him
from Carolina for a 2012 draft pick.
The veteran defenseman had two goals and 14 assists in 50 games
this season with the Hurricanes and Calgary.
“We think Ian is a great fit for our club,” general manager Doug
Wilson told the Sharks’ official website. “He’s a great competitor
who is responsible in his own end.”