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Avalanche Opens 2019 With Battle Against Sharks

Colorado and San Jose meet for the first time this season

by Dan Vatch / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche (19-13-8) faces off against the San Jose Sharks (21-13-7) for the first time during the 2018-19 season at Pepsi Center on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. MT.

The Avs have a 41-33-12 all-time mark against the Sharks since the 1995-96 season. Last year, Colorado went 2-1-0 in the three-game season series versus San Jose, winning both games at Pepsi Center.

The Wednesday night matchup is the first of three games between the Western Conference foes this season and the only time the Sharks travel to Denver during the 2018-19 regular-season campaign.

Last Time Out

The Avalanche fought back from a 2-0 deficit against the Los Angeles Kings to force overtime, but fell 3-2 in the extra frame at Pepsi Center on Monday. Nathan MacKinnon tallied his 24th goal of the season just 32 seconds into the third period, and Carl Soderberg tied the game to force overtime with just under two minutes left in regulation. Mikko Rantanen, Tyson Barrie and Gabriel Landeskog each notched an assist against the Kings while Avs netminder Semyon Varlamov made 15 stops. Colorado held Los Angeles to 18 shots, the fewest by an opponent this year.

The Calgary Flames defeated the San Jose Sharks 8-5 on Monday at Scotiabank Saddledome. The Sharks went 2-for-4 on the power play in the loss with goals coming on the man advantage from Brent Burns and Joe Thornton. Joonas Donskoi reached the back of the net twice while Lukas Radil also recorded a marker for San Jose. Netminder Aaron Dell stopped 19 shots against the Flames.

Last Time They Met

The Sharks prevailed in a 4-2 win against the Avs on April 6 at SAP Center in Northern California. Blake Comeau scored for Colorado and Mikko Rantanen capitalized on the power play. Avalanche netminder Jonathan Bernier made 32 stops between the pipes, and San Jose goaltender Martin Jones saved 23 shots in the win. Justin Braun, Logan Couture, Joonas Donskoi and Tomas Hertl were the goal scorers for the Sharks, with Hertl's coming via an empty net with two seconds remaining.

What To Watch

New Year, Same Scoring

During the calendar year of 2018, Mikko Rantanen (34 goals, 79 assists) and Nathan MacKinnon (47 goals, 63 assists) ranked second and third, respectively, in the NHL in scoring during the regular season, combining for 223 total points, the most of any pair of teammates in the league during that time. Ahead of only Rantanen (113 points) and MacKinnon (110 points) was the Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid, who recorded 121 points.

Neat-o Nieto

In five games against his former team, Matt Nieto has registered three points (one goal, two assists). The 26-year-old was drafted by San Jose in the second round (47th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft and recorded 70 points (28 goals, 42 assists) in 221 games as a member of the club. In 154 outings with the Avs since being claimed on waivers on Jan. 5, 2017, Nieto has recorded 50 points (26 goals and 24 assists), including posting a career-high 15 goals last season.

Players To Watch

Colorado: Center Carl Soderberg

The Malmo, Sweden, native scored his 11th goal of the season against Los Angeles on Monday. He now has 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 40 outings this year and is just five goals shy of tying his career high of 16 markers (2013-14 and 2017-18).

San Jose: Defenseman Brent Burns

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound blueliner extended his point streak (two goals, three assists) to three games with a marker and a helper in the loss against Calgary on Monday. His 40 points (six goals, 34 assists) lead the club and rank second among NHL defensemen this season.

Lineup Notes

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer will get the start in net for Colorado. The team recalled netminder Pavel Francouz from the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles on Wednesday to provide support while Semyon Varlamov is a little "banged up," according to head coach Jared Bednar. Varlamov could be available as a backup for Wednesday's game.

The Details

Wednesday's clash between the Avalanche and Sharks is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT. The game can be watched live on NBCSN or streamed on select devices with the NBC Sports app (in market) or NHL.tv (out of market). The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio FM 92.5 in the Denver area or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.

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