The Colorado Avalanche looks to get back in the win column on Sunday when it takes on the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.
The Avs dropped their second straight in their last game on Friday, losing 6-3 at the Vancouver Canucks to begin a three-game road trip. Valeri Nichushkin scored his 13th goal of the season to tie the contest at 3-3 midway through the second period, but Vancouver pulled away with three unanswered goals to close the contest. Erik Johnson finished with two points (one goal, one assist), as did Nathan MacKinnon (two assists) and Gabriel Landeskog (one goal, one assist), with Landeskog extending his season-long point streak to seven games (four goals, six assists).
San Jose also lost its second straight game after falling 2-1 in overtime at home to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon. The Sharks were unable to capitalize on goaltender Aaron Dell's 36 saves, as Evander Kane tallied the only goal in the contest for the club.
This is the second of three meetings this season between the clubs. Colorado beat the Sharks 4-0 in the first contest on Jan. 16 at Pepsi Center.
Avalanche at SAN JOSE SHARKS
SAP Center | San Jose, Calif.
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… Cale Makar and Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro were college teammates at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for two seasons from 2017-2019… 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 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 Avalanche shut out San Jose 4-0 on Jan. 16 in their first meeting of the season, as Philipp Grubauer saved all 27 shots he faced. Eight players had at least one point in the game for Colorado to help the Avs stop their then-four-game skid against the Sharks. Valeri Nichushkin, Cale Makar, Ryan Graves and Matt Calvert tallied for the Avalanche.\
The Avs are 42-36-12 in the all-time series against San Jose since moving to Colorado in 1995. Since the Sharks entered the league in 1991-92, Joe Sakic's 75 points rank second overall against San Jose (Teemu Selanne, 99 points). Nathan MacKinnon leads Colorado's active players in points against the Sharks with 17 (10 goals, seven assists). The Avs and Sharks have battled in five playoff series in their history, most recently last year when San Jose prevailed in seven games.
Pavel Francouz, who started on Friday, is expected to be back in net on Sunday for the first game of the back-to-back set. Kevin Connauton and Sheldon Dries, who were recently recalled from the AHL Colorado Eagles, played in their second fourth NHL games of the season, respectively.
Cale Makar (upper body) and Andre Burakovsky (lower body/upper body) are both day-to-day… Forwards Matt Calvert (lower body), Nazem Kadri (lower body) and Mikko Rantanen (upper body) and goaltender Philipp Grubauer (lower body) have returned to skating and continue to progress… Colin Wilson (lower body) continues to rehab and do off-ice training following two surgeries earlier this season.
SCOUTING THE SHARKS
The Sharks (29-34-5) are in seventh place in the Pacific Division but have gone 3-1-1 in their last five games, outscoring opponents 16-9 in this stretch since Feb. 27. San Jose has also not allowed a power-play goal in five games, fending off all 13 shorthanded situations in that time.
Killing penalties has been the Sharks' greatest strength. They have the top-ranked unit in the league with an 86.6-percent success rate against the man advantage. What's more, San Jose has been shorthanded 217 times, tied for seventh-most in the NHL.
Offensively, four players on the team have at least 40 points: Timo Meier (45), Brent Burns (45), Evander Kane (45) and Erik Karlsson (40).
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Brent Burns
Brent Burns is tied for the team lead with 45 points (12 goals, 33 assists), which is also tied for 10th-most for defensemen in the league. He is averaging the sixth-most ice time in the NHL (25:18).
Burns went on a six-game point streak from Feb. 4-17 (two goals, six assists) and has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) since the start of February.
Gabriel Landeskog scored his 20th goal of the season on Friday, hitting the 20-goal mark for the seventh time in his career. Only Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk have more such campaigns (both 11) in franchise history.
The Avalanche has fended off 27 straight power plays over the last 11 games since Feb. 13. Its 11 games without a power-play goal against matches a franchise record.
Colorado's plus-46 goals differential ranks third in the league.
The Avs and Sharks close their season series on March 17 in Denver… The game begins Colorado's 12th and final back-to-back set of the season; the Avs are 8-3-0 in the first contest and 7-4-1 in the second so far this year... The trip wraps up a stretch of eight-of-10 games on the road… Nathan MacKinnon recorded two assists on Saturday, giving him 90 points (34 goals, 56 assists) on the year. He is the first player in Avs history (since the team move to Denver in 1995) to post three consecutive seasons of 90 points or more. He and Peter Forsberg (1997-99) were the only players to reach at least 90 points in two straight seasons.