AVALANCHE (43-30-9) at SHARKS (51-20-11)
Last 10: Colorado 6-3-1; San Jose 8-1-1.
Season Series: The teams met four times during the regular season, which each winning twice. Colorado won the most recent meeting, a 5-4 decision at the Pepsi Center on April 4.
Big Story: A huge test for San Jose, which won the Western Conference again by racking up 113 points during the regular season. Now, though, it's time for the Sharks to get over the hump and go on a long run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Another first-round exit would be devastating for the franchise.
Avalanche: Picked by many "experts" to finish last in the conference, all the Avs did was win 43 games behind some stellar goaltending by free-agent signee Craig Anderson. The 28-year-old appeared in a franchise-record 71 games and won 38 of them, posting a 2.63 goals-against average and .920 save percentage along the way.
"You've got to play a strong defensive game," Anderson said when asked about his team's first-round series. "It's going to be a 1-0, 2-1 battle in the playoffs, and we've got to be prepared for that."
Sharks: San Jose hit a bump in road earlier in the second half of the season, but it certainly finished strong with eight wins in its final 10 games. The Sharks closed out the regular season with a 3-2 shootout victory against the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion on Saturday night.
Now, they'll face a Colorado team that shocked the hockey world this season and enters the playoffs a loose bunch.
"We'll have our hands full," coach Todd McLellan said of the Avs. "Colorado is young, energetic and enthusiastic hockey team. They have some veterans like (Adam) Foote and (Darcy) Tucker to stabilize that energy. They will come out and play extremely hard. I'm sure they will use (the underdog role) as a rallying point."
Who's Hot: Avs center Paul Stastny had a five-game points streak snapped on Sunday in Los Angeles, while Ryan Stoa scored in back-to-back games. … Sharks center Patrick Marleau finished the season with 44 goals, a career high.
Injury Report: For the Avs, Matt Duchene (torso) and Peter Mueller (concussion) are questionable, while David Jones (ACL) is out. … San Jose is boasting a healthy lineup.
Stat Pack: Besides games played, Anderson also set new franchise records in minutes (4,236), shots faced (2,233) and saves (2,047). His opponent in this series, Evgeni Nabokov, also appeared in 71 games. He had a 2.43 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
Puck Drop: "They're a team that, in the past, haven't lived up to their expectations, but they may use that as motivation. They'll be challenging themselves to get out of the first round, and we'll be doing our best to prevent that." -- Colorado coach Joe Sacco on the Sharks