The Colorado Avalanche returns to the Mile High City to host the San Jose Sharks in the first meeting of a back-to-back set on Friday.
The Avalanche (31-12-4) dropped its third straight contest for the first time this season on Wednesday, losing 5-2 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Defensemen Devon Toews and Ryan Graves each found the back of the net, while Nathan MacKinnon added an assist to extend his point streak to 15 games, setting a new career high and surpassing Dougie Hamilton for the longest point streak in the NHL this season. Carl Soderberg picked up his first point since being acquired by the club, recording an assist.
San Jose is coming off a two-game sweep over the Arizona Coyotes after earning a 4-2 victory on Wednesday, improving to 20-24-5 on the campaign. Evander Kane scored for the third straight game, matching his season-best goal streak as Tomas Hertl (one goal, one assist) stretched his point streak to four games with his ninth multi-point effort this year. Logan Couture found the scoresheet for the third consecutive game with two assists, while goaltender Josef Korenar stopped 28-of-30.
Friday's contest is the fifth matchup between the Avs and Sharks this season and the third at Ball Arena. Colorado will host San Jose one more time this season on Saturday.
Avalanche vs. San Jose Sharks
Ball Arena | Denver, Colo.
COLORADO-SAN JOSE CONNECTIONS
Joonas Donskoi skated for San Jose in his first four NHL seasons from 2015-2019… Goaltender Devan Dubnyk began the 2020-21 season with the Sharks… Cale Makar and Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro were college teammates at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for two seasons from 2017-2019… Sharks forward Matt Nieto played the past four seasons for the Avs from 2017-2020… San Jose defenseman Greg Pateryn spent part of the 2020-21 season with Colorado… Sharks center Dylan Gambrell played at the University of Denver from 2015-2018… Avalanche video coach Brett Heimlich is from San Jose and spent 11 years with the Sharks organization from 2004-2015… San Jose head coach Bob Boughner finished his NHL playing career with the Avalanche from 2004-2006… Sharks NHL development coach Mike Ricci played for Colorado/Quebec from 1992-1998 and won a Stanley Cup with the Avs in 1996.
The Avalanche and Sharks square off on Friday for the first time since March 3rd, when Colorado defeated San Jose 4-0 behind Philipp Grubauer's 26-save shutout. Earlier in the season series, the Avs swept the first two-game set from Jan. 26-28 while the Sharks picked up a 6-2 victory on March 1. Through the first four contests, the Avalanche has outscored the Sharks 16-9 with two clean sheets, the most shutouts versus any opponent this campaign. As well, the squad has converted on the power play in each of the games (4-for-17) and has allowed just one man-advantage tally against (14-of-15).
Colorado sports a 3-1-0 record against San Jose so far this season, with a 2-0-0 mark at Ball Arena. All time, the Avs posses a 51-39-12 record when facing the Sharks, including a 5-5-0 mark in the last 10 matchups.
Colorado had a day off on Thursday, so its lineup will likely be unknown until after morning skate. The club could be receiving some reinforcements as Mikko Rantanen, Joonas Donskoi and Philipp Grubauer have all been skating since being removed from the NHL's COVID-19 protocol and could return to the lineup on Friday.
Bowen Byram (upper body and COVID protocol-related absence) and Logan O'Connor (lower body) are each week-to-week after suffering setbacks in their recoveries. Matt Calvert (upper body) and Jacob MacDonald (lower body) are both week-to-week with ailments, while Brandon Saad is out two to four weeks with a lower-body injury. Pavel Francouz is out the remainder of the season with a lower-body injury and Erik Johnson (upper body) could return later in the playoffs.
SCOUTING THE SHARKS
After falling in eight straight games (0-7-1) from April 10-24, the Sharks look to remain in the race for the final playoff spot in the West Division after defeating the Arizona Coyotes in two straight contests on Monday and Wednesday. The club currently holds the sixth spot in the division with 45 points (20-24-5), trailing the fifth place Arizona Coyotes (47 points) by two points and the fourth place St. Louis Blues (52 points) by seven.
On the road, San Jose owns a 10-13-3 record, with a 2-7-1 mark in its last 10 away games. The squad has struggled on the defensive side of the ice as the visiting team, giving up the sixth-most goals (86) and owning the 10th-highest goals-against average (3.31) in the NHL. On the other hand, the Sharks are tied for the 10th-most markers at 5-on-5 while on the road with 49 (tied) and have tallied 24 goals in the first period while away from San Josse, tied for the seventh most in the league.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: PATRICK MARLEAU
Patrick Marleau continues to impress as the 23-year NHL veteran recently surpassed Gordie Howe for the most games played in league history, skating in his 1,768th career game on April 19th. The forward has now skated in 1,772 contests, compiling 566 goals and 631 assists throughout his career. Of his 23 seasons in the NHL, Marleau has spent parts of 21 campaigns with the Sharks. He leads the franchise in goals (522) and points (1,111), along with power-play markers (163) and game-winning tallies (101).
Even after playing in three different decades, Marleau is still producing in his 23rd year as the veteran skater has notched four goals and five assists this season, including two markers on the man advantage, tied for the third most on the squad.
In 78 all-time contests versus the Avs, Marleau has collected 28 goals and 27 assists, with 19 power-play points. While playing for the Sharks, Marleau is tied with Joe Thornton for the most points against Colorado in franchise history (52), while leading the organization in contests against the Avs with 27 goals.
Devon Toews' seven goals this season are the most the defenseman has tallied in a single campaign in his career, eclipsing his previous best of six markers in 2019-20. He currently leads all Avalanche blueliners in goals and is tied for the 12th most among defenders in the NHL.
Colorado is currently on a season-long 13-game point streak at home (13-0-1), winning five consecutive matchups at Ball Arena and 12 of the last 13. The 13-game point streak is the fourth longest stretch in franchise history, four games shy of the record of 17 straight contests which was done in 2003.
Philipp Grubauer leads the league with 17 wins on home ice (17-4-1) and has collected the most shutouts at home in the NHL (four). The netminder has won five of his last six at Ball Arena and 13-of-15 (13-1-1) overall.
The Avalanche boasts a 18-4-2 mark at Ball Arena this season, owning the fifth-most wins in the NHL and the most goals scored at home (92)… In the first contests of back-to-back sets this season, the Avs own a 6-1-0 record… Colorado looks to end its three-game losing streak, as the club has not lost four consecutive contests since Jan. 7-14, 2020… Nathan MacKinnon (10 goals, 17 assists) and Mikko Rantanen (13 goals, 13 assists) lead the Avalanche in scoring at home. MacKinnon is on a current six game point streak on home ice with four of those six contests being multi-point efforts, while Rantanen has tallied in nine of his last 12 at Ball Arena… When tallying the first goal on home ice, Colorado sports a 15-1-1 mark, the most wins in the league when getting on the board first… Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon are each one point away from surpassing Mike Ricci as the fifth-highest scorers versus the Sharks in franchise history. Landeskog has tallied six goals and 18 assists, while MacKinnon has registered 11 goals and 13 assists… Cale Makar is the only defenseman in the NHL to have averaged a point per game this season, as Makar has five goals and 30 assists in 35 contests for a 1.00 points per game average.