Programming note – Sharks-Avalanche coverage starts today at 6:00 p.m. on NBCSN
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 29-16-2, 60 points, 2nd Pacific Division
Avalanche: 13-29-2, 28 points, 7th Central Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***Tonight’s game is the second of a home-and-home for the Sharks and Avalanche, after San Jose’s 3-2 win in overtime at SAP Center on Saturday, and the final game of the season series. David Schlemko got the deciding score 1:18 into the extra frame, as the Sharks improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight against Colorado.
The Sharks have won four straight, while Colorado, just 2-14-1 in its last 17, has lost five in a row. The Avs have not won in regulation since Dec. 11 at Toronto.
***Colorado will reportedly give rookie Spencer Martin his second straight start after he made 27 saves in his NHL debut against the Sharks on Saturday.
Martin Jones is tied for third in the NHL with 24 wins, and is 5-1-0 in his last six starts.
***Four of the Sharks’ last six games have been decided by one goal, including three in a row. San Jose is 16-10-2 in one-goal games – the second most one-goal wins in the league, and the most one-goal losses in regulation.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Kevin Labanc. The Sharks rookie has hit a bit of a wall since bursting onto the scene, going without a goal for the last 10 games. Coach Pete DeBoer said recently that he had a talk with the rookie about maintaining a high level of play, and Labanc has been more noticeable in his last two games, recording an assist in each. The 21-year-old has 14 points (7g, 7a) in 34 games this season.
Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon. No forward was more effective for Colorado on Saturday against the Sharks than MacKinnon, their lone All-Star, who recorded a game-high seven shots and set up the tying goal in the third period. The first pick in the 2013 draft has 10 points (7g, 3a) in 10 career games when opposing San Jose, and is Colorado’s leading scorer with 32 points (11g, 21a).
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Kevin Labanc – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Timo Meier – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Mikko Rantanen – Nathan Mackinnon – Mikhail Grigorenko
Gabriel Landeskog – Matt Duchene – Matt Nieto
Blake Comeau – Carl Soderberg – Jarome Iginla
Andreas Martinsen – John Mitchell – Joe Colborne
Francois Beauchemin – Cody Goloubef
Fedor Tyutin – Nikita Zadorov
Patrick Wiercioch – Eric Gelinas
Spencer Martin (starter)
Sharks: Micheal Haley (lower body), Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) and Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) are out.
Avalanche: Tyson Barrie (lower body) and Rene Bourque (lower body) are day-to-day. Semyon Varlamov (groin) and Erik Johnson (broken fibula) are out.
“I felt we did a pretty good job in our end, [but] we probably played there a little too much. We didn’t execute as well as we wanted to coming out of our end or through the neutral zone. There’s going to be games like that and it’s good to find a way to win.” – David Schlemko, after Saturday’s win
SAN JOSE – It took overtime for the Sharks to surpass the worst team in the NHL, but the points are valuable any way they come in the second half. Here are our three takeaways from the 3-2 victory on Saturday night…
1 – Top guys struggle, but depth comes through
It wasn’t a very good night for the captain’s line, which was particularly sloppy on Colorado’s tying goal in the third period. Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic weren’t much better, as the former was caught out of position a couple times, and the latter was tagged with six giveaways.
But those guys have been playing the bulk of the minutes lately, so they’re allowed to have an off night. At least, that’s how Pete DeBoer saw it.
“We've ridden our big guys pretty hard,” DeBoer said. “They played some tough minutes with some of the opponents we played this week, in L.A. and on and on. Tonight's a night you're looking for your depth guys to step up and give you some energy, and I thought we got that."
The Sharks’ fourth line was probably its best from start to finish, including Melker Karlsson’s goal, from Ryan Carpenter.
“[Tomas] Hertl's missed 30 games, so we needed somebody to come in and help us out in that area, and he's done that,” DeBoer said of Carpenter.
2 – Making it too easy on Martin
Spencer Martin was making his NHL debut in difficult circumstances, playing in front of what has been an incredibly loose team in its own end against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. But, the Sharks made it easy on him most of the night.
Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon, who had a tremendous game, told the Denver Post that he thought Colorado was the better team.
“Tonight, we outplayed them,” he said. “We outplayed the team that went to the (Stanley Cup) Finals last year, and there were some bright spots for us. We have to climb out of this hole and have a good last 30, 40 games here and go into next season feeling pretty good about ourselves.”
They’ll get another chance against the Sharks on Monday at Pepsi Center as the teams conclude their two-game season series. San Jose will try and give the Colorado goalie, whoever it is, a more difficult time.
“When we’re on our game, we’re making it tough with grind time and traffic at the net, some chances,” Joe Pavelski said. “Tonight we didn’t have as many as we could have had. We’ll try to find a little bit more for next game.”
Schlemko said: “We just didn’t have as much grind time in the o-zone as we usually do. If you’re not playing in their end you’re usually playing in your end.”
3 – Ward gets another on the power play
Joel Ward’s resurgence continues, as the forward again found a way to contribute on the scoresheet. His first period power play goal was one of the easier scores he’ll have, on a nice setup by Joe Thornton.
“[Thornton] had it behind the net and came around the side, and sent it to me on the far side, so it went in,” Ward said.
The 36-year-old Ward has nine points (3g, 6a) in his last 13 games. To put that in perspective, the last time he was a healthy scratch on Dec. 20, he had just nine points in 31 games on the season.