SAN JOSE -- It's been 28 days since the San Jose Sharks sent forward Jamie McGinn to Colorado in a trade deadline deal for wingers Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi.
McGinn left as a solid third-line winger, but will return Monday night to HP Pavilion as one of the NHL's hottest players when he faces his former Sharks teammates for the first time.
McGinn has 8 goals (2 game-winners) and 4 assists in 13 games for the Avalanche. He has a pair of 2-goal games, and he reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career Saturday night when he scored on the power play against Vancouver.
Has he ever been this hot on the ice?
"Maybe in junior hockey," McGinn said after Colorado's morning skate at HP Pavilion. "It's nice. It's been a while, but I'm not going to think about it too much. I'm just going to continue to go out there and take every game like it's a new game and continue to work hard. I can't worry about that. You don't want to jinx it or anything. You just continue to work. That's all it is."
McGinn, who was drafted by the Sharks in the second round in 2006, said retuning to San Jose has been "surreal" for him. He went out to dinner Sunday night with former Sharks teammates Logan Couture, Ryane Clowe, Torrey Mitchell, Jason Demers and Colin White.
But after catching up with "a few of the boys," McGinn said it will be all business Monday night and he'll play the same high-energy, hard-hitting game he always does.
"You have to continue to play hard every night no matter who you're against," McGinn said. "It's hockey. Trades happen. You can be buddies off the ice, but once you're on the ice you've got to forget about it and worry about what's at hand. There's five games left, so every point's important. I can't take a night off."
McGinn has been getting more ice time with Colorado than he did in San Jose, which explains some of his newfound success. He's also a top-six forward in Colorado, and Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said McGinn found instant chemistry with center Paul Stastny and forward David Jones.
"With him and Jones on the wing you've got two bigger guys that hound the puck, that get after it on the forecheck, and you have a very smart centerman in the middle there who can make plays, distribute the puck to those guys," Sacco said. "Both wingers have good shots. Both guys use their size effectively, and when you have that guy in the middle who can make plays, sees the ice well, it's been a good fit for everyone."
McGinn didn't have a point in his first two games with Colorado, but in his third game he had 2 goals, including the game-winner, against Minnesota. Two nights later in a rematch with the Wild, McGinn had the game-winning goal and an assist.
"You want to be an impact player right away," McGinn said. "It's new fans, new teammates. You don't want to be coming in and kind of sitting back just watching. I want to be an impact player, I want to be a part of it, I want to be a guy they can look to to maybe put the puck in the net. I was pretty excited to get the first one out of the way early."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he's not surprised by McGinn's success.
"Well, he's a hell of a player," McLellan said. "He's having a career type year. He's scoring goals and he's given an opportunity to play a few more minutes there with a young team. He gets a little more on the power-play unit, perhaps first line power-play minutes vs. second. He went there, he established himself, and he's a confident player right now. And that's Jamie McGinn. We all liked him when he was here, and now our job is to go out and beat him when he’s over there."
Winnik started heating up just in time to face his former team. He scored a goal in each of the past two games, his first two goals since coming to the Sharks. Winnik, center Andrew Desjardins and winger Tommy Wingels have found some chemistry and given McLellan some offensive production outside of his top two lines.
"You can see that he's found a home and he feels comfortable there," McLellan said of Winnik. "Rewarded with a couple goals. We'd like to keep him going, as well."
Sacco said he's not surprised that Winnik is "popping in some goals here and there" for the Sharks.
"He's a good solid player. He's a good penalty killer, he's a good defensive foreward," Sacco said. "He's strong on the puck, he cycles it well. He gives you some good grind time. And I think with Winny, scoring is a bonus."
Galiardi, who has yet to score a goal for the Sharks, will miss his sixth straight game with an upper-body injury and won't get to face his former team Monday night.
After missing three games with back spasms, Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson will return to the lineup against San Jose, Sacco said, replacing defenseman Tyson Barrie.
Johnson practiced Sunday, and after going through Monday morning's skate, he said he was good to go.
"It was definitely hard being out," Johnson said. "An injury like a back, you kind of have to make sure you're ready to go. I didn't want to take two steps forward and then one step back. It was an injury that wasn't really fun to have, and especially this time of year, it was really bad timing for it."
Johnson said he's ready to resume his roles on the power play and penalty kill, as well.
"I feel good enough to play as much as they want me to," Johnson said. "I'll accept those minutes how they're given to me. Obviously you'd like to play as much as you can, and hopefully I can do that tonight and use the ice time effectively."
Here's how the lineups could look tonight:
Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Ryane Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Dominic Moore - Michal Handzus - Torrey Mitchell
Daniel Winnik - Andrew Desjardins - Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle
Douglas Murray - Brent Burns
Jason Demers - Justin Braun
Niemi will make his 15th consecutive start for the Sharks. He's 4-1-2 with a 2.49 goals against average and one shutout in his career against Colorado.
Steve Downie - Ryan O'Reilly - Gabriel Landeskog
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Mark Olver - Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Matt Hunwick - Ryan Wilson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Varlamov will be in goal for the fifth straight game. He is 2-1-0 with a 2.93 goals against average in his career against San Jose.