Based on history, Sharks should like chances at home vs. Avs (Jan 21, 2017)
The San Jose Sharks have been winning by narrow margins recently. That has hardly been the case for nearly a decade when the Colorado Avalanche come to northern California.
Looking for its fourth straight win overall, San Jose also hopes to continue a remarkable run at home against Colorado as the teams square off in the start of a home-and-home series on Saturday night.
For nearly eight years, San Jose has dominated Colorado at SAP Center, winning 14 of 15. The Sharks have outscored the Avalanche 54-26, holding them to one goal or less 10 times.
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That’s a welcome change from what San Jose has experienced recently.
After a one-goal win Wednesday on the road against the Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks returned home and defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Thursday. Logan Couture, back after a one-game absence with a stomach ailment, scored the tiebreaking goal in the opening minute of the third period.
“He’s one of those players who if he’s having an off-day, there’s always that chance he can break open,” San Jose captain Joe Pavelski said of Couture, who has a goal and four assists in his last three home games against the Avalanche.
Brent Burns, the league’s top scoring defenseman (47 points), needs one goal to reach 20 for the third time in four seasons. He has found the back of the net 13 times against Colorado but has none in the last four matchups at home.
While rookie Aaron Dell made 24 saves Thursday, Martin Jones should expect to be back in goal for the Sharks. Jones is 23-14-2 with a 2.25 goals-against average overall but 12-6-1 with a 2.02 GAA at home.
Jones has given up 15 goals in five home games this month. However, to say scoring has been an issue for Colorado this season would be an understatement. The Avalanche are last in the league in goals scored (87), averaging barely over two per game.
Defense also continues to be an issue for rookie coach Jared Bednar’s team. Colorado has allowed a league-worst 3.35 goals per game.
The Sharks and Avalanche split four games in 2015-16, and if there is a positive trend to be found in Colorado’s recent history in this matchup, then it lies in special teams play. Last season, the Avalanche went 8 of 17 with the man advantage with five goals coming in 11 chances at the Shark Tank.
Now, Colorado has one of the worst power-play conversion rates at 14.2 percent (20 of 141). The Avs are also among the leaders in power-play goals allowed with 35, surrendering seven in their last six road games.
Colorado (13-29-1) owns the league’s worst record and will be trying to avoid losing at least five in a row for the fourth time since Nov. 23. The team has dropped four straight and six of seven on the road, where they’re 8-13-0.
“We’ve just got to find a way to play a full 60 minutes,” defenseman Francois Beauchemin said after the Avs’ latest skid was extended with a 2-1 loss to the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
Gabriel Landeskog scored his third in five games to give him nine this season. Colorado’s captain is in the midst of a season-high three-game points streak (two goals, one assist), but he has not registered a point in four straight visits to SAP Center.
Two other players with modest scoring streaks are Nathan MacKinnon (three assists in two games) and Matt Duchene (two goals and two assists in three games). The subject of recent trade rumors, Duchene has seven goals and seven assists in 22 career games against the Sharks.
The Avs’ Semyon Varlamov has one win in his last 11 games and is day to day with a recurring groin injury. If he his unable to go Saturday, Calvin Pickard will be on the hunt for his career-best eighth win.
Pickard is 7-12-1 with a 3.01 GAA and .920 save percentage. On the road, though, he has given up 12 goals while losing four straight. He has split two career starts in San Jose, posting a 4.23 GAA and .879 save percentage.
There is a chance that Spencer Martin could make his NHL debut. Recalled four times since Nov. 25, Martin his posted a 15-9-2 record with a 2.62 GAA and .915 save percentage with San Antonio of the American Hockey League.
The Sharks and Avalanche will meet for the second and final time this season on Sunday in Denver.