The Colorado Avalanche hosts the San Jose Sharks for the first time this season on Thursday and in the club's third game of a season-long five-game homestand at Pepsi Center. It is the teams' first meeting since facing off in Round 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Colorado is coming off a 3-2 loss in overtime to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday after Dallas tied the contest late in the third period and eventually scored the game-winner in OT. Nathan MacKinnon extended his point streak to three games by registering two assists against the Stars, while Gabriel Landeskog and Nikita Zadorov scored for the Avs.
The Sharks are in the middle of a three-game road trip that started with a 6-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. San Jose tied the game at 2-2 midway through the second period, but Arizona ran away to claim the victory after scoring three times in the third period. Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier and Evander Kane tallied in the outing for the Sharks.
The matchup is the first of a three-game season series between these two teams that will conclude on March 17 at Pepsi Center. The Avalanche will play in San Jose on March 8.
Avalanche vs. San Jose Sharks
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
COLORADO-SAN JOSE CONNECTIONS
Joonas Donskoi played for San Jose for his first four NHL seasons from 2015-2019… Matt Nieto was the Sharks' first pick at No. 47 overall in the 2011 draft and played in San Jose from 2013-2017… Avalanche video coach Brett Heimlich is from San Jose and spent 11 years with the Sharks organization from 2004-2015… San Jose interim head coach Bob Boughner played with the Avalanche from 2004-2006… Sharks assistant coach Mike Ricci played for Colorado/Quebec from 1992-1998 and won a Stanley Cup with the Avs in 1996.
The Avs own a 41-36-12 all-time mark against the Sharks since moving to Denver in 1995, including a 24-14-6 record as the home team. Colorado and San Jose played in the playoffs for the fifth time in their history last spring, with the Sharks winning the second-round series in seven games.
The Avalanche last faced the Sharks at Pepsi Center on May 6 in Game 6 of that Stanley Cup Playoffs series and won 4-3 in overtime on a Gabriel Landeskog goal to force the decisive seventh game back in San Jose.
Colorado's starting goaltender won't be known until later on game day. The team practiced with the same line combinations on Wednesday as it played with in Tuesday's contest against the Stars.
Joonas Donskoi (concussion protocol) skated in Wednesday's practice as a non-contract participant, but he won't be available to play against his former team. Colin Wilson is out indefinitely after having surgery to help fix a lower-body injury.
SCOUTING THE SHARKS
San Jose is 21-23-4 so far this season, including an 8-12-3 mark as the visiting team. The club has earned 46 points to put the club in sixth place in the Pacific Division. The Sharks own the best penalty-kill percentage in the league at 87.7 percent and score on 17 percent of their power plays, eighth worst. The club is tied with the Avalanche and others for the fourth-most short-handed goals in the NHL with six so far this season.
Goaltender Martin Jones is one of only 21 netminders in the league to record a point this campaign with one assist, while defenseman Brent Burns' 32 points (nine goals, 23 assists) put him tied for 10th among all NHL blueliners. Fellow D-man Erik Karlsson is seventh with 35 points.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Erik Karlsson
San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson is on a six-game point streak, recording a goal and six assists in that time. Karlsson leads all Sharks defensemen and ranks tied for third on the team in scoring with 35 points after 47 games this season (five goals, 30 assists).
The Swede is in his second season with San Jose after producing 45 points in 53 contests in 2018-19. He is two points away from 600 in his career, with 134 goals and 464 assists in 727 NHL games.
With 10 points (three goals, seven assists) since the start of 2020, Nathan MacKinnon ranks tied for fifth in the NHL so far in this calendar year. Overall this season, he has earned 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) to sit in third place overall in the NHL scoring race.
The Avs have scored 54 goals in the first period this season to lead the NHL. Colorado is tied for third in the league by averaging 3.57 goals per game, and its plus-27 goal differential is the best in the Central Division.
J.T. Compher is set to play in his 200th career game against the Sharks on Thursday. Compher is in his fourth NHL season with the Avalanche and has notched 83 points (39 goals, 44 assists) in that time. With 16 assists this year, he has already tied his previous season high for helpers while his 23 total points are tied for the second-best of his career.
The Avs own the sixth-best power play at home, scoring on 24.4 percent of their opportunities… Nathan MacKinnon is only three away from reaching the 30-goal mark for the third straight season… Matt Calvert is two points away from having 200 career points… Andre Burakovsky is two assists away from 100 career helpers… Colorado will play its first home day game of the season against St. Louis at 1 p.m. on Saturday.