DENVER – With a mere four games in the books, it's much too early for the San Jose Sharks to start panicking.
But a 1-2-1 record is cause for some concern.
"We want to win some games," new captain Joe Thornton said Thursday morning at the Pepsi Center, where the Sharks meet the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night in a rematch of last spring's first-round playoff series. "You always want to start fast. It's early, but we're still competitive. We still want to win every game."
The Sharks split a two-game series against Columbus in Stockholm to open the season as part of the Compuware NHL Premiere Series before losing back-to-back home games to Atlanta and Carolina.
"We've been back for over a week, so that's not an excuse," Thornton said of the trip to Sweden. "We just need to be sharper, to be a lot better."
Antero Niittymaki will make his second start in goal for the Sharks, who have scored just nine goals in four games -- six coming on power plays.
"The power play's been fine," Thornton said. "Our five-on-five game has been lacking so far."
Defensemen Dan Boyle said the Sharks have been too error-prone up to now.
"We're just shooting ourselves in the foot with a lot of mistakes out there," he said. "Every team goes through this. You don't play 82 games without going through a streak where you're not playing well. Unfortunately, we're coming out of the gate like that.
"There's too many good hockey players in this locker room for this to continue and we're going to change it. We'll find a way."
Forward Jamal Mayers, who was signed as a free agent in August, will play for the first time since suffering an arm injury in a Sept. 28 preseason game against Vancouver. He'll begin the game on the fourth line.
The Avs are coming off a five-game road trip in which they went 3-2-0 and are playing at home for the first time since opening the season by beating Chicago 4-3 in overtime two weeks ago.
"It's definitely nice to be back here," said John-Michael Liles, the NHL's top-scoring defenseman with 8 points, all assists. "This will be a good test to see where our team is at early in the season. (The Sharks) are a very good team, so it doesn't get any easier."
Colorado will be without left wing David Jones, who sustained a bruised forearm Monday against the New York Rangers, but left wing Brandon Yip will return to the lineup after missing two games with a groin injury.
Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said he would dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the second game in a row.
"It's not a long-term option," he said. "The seven defensemen we have we can use in all different situations. We'll go game by game."
Craig Anderson gets the start in goal, his sixth of the season.