Avalanche-Sharks Preview

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.