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SAP Center at San Jose, San Jose, California Attendance: 17,351
Key injury looms over Avs-Sharks matchup
Colorado Avalanche at San Jose Sharks
- The Avalanche beat the Canucks, 3-2, in a shootout at home on Wednesday, improving to 5-0-1 in their last six. They've also earned a point in 10 of their last 12 (6-2-4) following a 2-8-0 stretch. Wednesday was Colorado's second win in games that have gone past regulation this year (2-12).
- Nathan MacKinnon scored his 33rd goal of the season on Wednesday, after notching a career-high 39 last year. With two more goals, he'll be the just the second player since the Avs moved to Colorado to post back-to-back 35-goal seasons (Milan Hejduk accomplished the feat twice -- 1999-01 and 2002-04).
- Since the 2008-09 season, the Sharks are 16-1-0 at home against Colorado -- the only teams with a better home record against one opponent in that span (minimum 15 games) are Pittsburgh (15-0-0 vs. Winnipeg) and Anaheim (20-1-0 vs. Calgary).
- The Sharks fell to the Bruins, 4-1, in Boston on Tuesday, dropping to 3-3-1 in their last seven games -- they had four total losses in their previous 19 games. Each of their last seven regulation losses has been by at least three goals.
- Logan Couture got San Jose's only goal in the loss to Boston, giving him 58 points (23g, 35a) this season. His 0.91 points-per-game pace is the highest of his career, putting him on pace to top his current career best of 67 points, set in 2014-15.
- Both teams have been potent when down a man, as they're tied (with two others) for the third-most shorthanded goals this season at nine. That's the most for Colorado since the Avs had 11 in 2005-06, and the most by San Jose since the Sharks had 12 in 2008-09.
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The Colorado Avalanche have turned their season around in the past 10 games, but one thing they hadn't solved was winning a game after regulation.
For one night they fixed that aspect, too, and now they want to carry that momentum forward. Friday's game at the San Jose Sharks is the start of a big stretch for the Avalanche, who play three of their next four on the road and try to stay in a strong position for a playoff spot.
Getting a 3-2 shootout win over Vancouver on Wednesday was a big weight off the Colorado players' shoulders. The Avalanche were 1-12 in overtime and shootouts before Carl Soderberg delivered the winner in the sixth round against the Canucks.
It put Colorado into the second wild-card slot but with six teams within range of the two wild-card positions there's no room for error.
"It's exciting to be in the playoffs, but all the teams around us, they're not just going to sleep, they're going to continue to play hard," Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov told the media after Wednesday's win. "Everybody's winning, so we got to keep winning the games and collect two points."
Improved goaltending has helped Colorado during its 6-2-2 stretch. Varlamov and his backup, Philipp Grubauer, struggled along with the rest of the team but in the last 10 games the Avalanche have given up 21 goals and have a pair of shutouts.
Colorado will be tested against a strong offensive Sharks team that is second in the Western Conference with 229 goals in 64 games. San Jose has plenty of weapons, but one of its best defensemen is hurting again. Erik Karlsson left Tuesday's loss at Boston after he aggravated a groin injury that kept him out of 10 games over the previous two months.
Karlsson sat out Sunday's game in Detroit because his bothersome groin injury flared up in a loss at Columbus the night before. He tried to play through it Tuesday but didn't play in the third period of a 4-1 loss to the Bruins.
"You guys saw what I saw," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told reporters after the Boston game. "He stumbled. He spun around and looked like he tweaked something again, and tried to go back out there."
Karlsson had taken part in the morning skate and said he was good to go but he might now be sidelined for a stretch.
"We know what kind of player he is," Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said. "Moving forward, that's one of the biggest things, getting his health back, getting him moving and skating and stuff because he is a great talent for us. It's tough to see him not be able to move out there."
If Karlsson can't play it will make it tougher for the Sharks to slow down Colorado's offense. Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon lead the team with 33 goals each, and MacKinnon is tied with Mikko Rantanen for the team lead in points with 81.
Like their goaltending, the Avalanche's offense struggled for two months but it has started producing again. And now they have found some footing in games beyond regulation.
"I have a lot of confidence in our team if we're going into a shootout because I like our shooters and I like our goaltender," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 28, 2019