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At the Rink: Avalanche at Sharks

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks got some help in their desperate attempt to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday when the New York Rangers defeated the Winnipeg Jets. And yes, Sharks coach Todd McLellan was "scoreboard watching" as he prepared for San Jose's game against the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center on Wednesday.

"We're watching all the games at home, the channel changer's going left and right," McLellan said. "We need help, and when you put yourself in that situation you haven't had the year that you wanted to have. We're in that situation now. So we need help and we're cheering for teams, which isn't right, but that's the way it's going right now."

The Sharks (83 points) trail the Jets by seven points for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. Colorado (82) is eight points back of Winnipeg. The Sharks and Avalanche also trail the Los Angeles Kings (88) and Dallas Stars (84) with six games remaining.

Colorado is 13-7-1 in its past 21 games, fighting its way into playoff contention. But the Avalanche had a costly 4-1 loss Monday against the Edmonton Oilers that ended their two-game winning streak.

"Now we know it's going to be very slim, our chances to make the playoffs are very small," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "At the same time, you want to make sure they develop good habits, and you make sure the compete level is there and the intensity in every game remains the same.

"We talk about how we want to play tonight more than anything else. We have stopped I think looking at the standings. This is a tough reality. It is still there, but at the same time there's a lot of teams between us and the No. 8 spot in the playoffs. Do we believe in it? Yeah, we like to believe in it. But at the same time it's the true reality. We need to focus on how we want to play our games, and that's what we've been trying to focus on more than where are we going to be at the end of the season. It's out of our control right now. We need a lot of help, and we need to win our games."

The Sharks will open a two-game homestand after going 3-3-1 on their seven-game road trip, which ended Sunday with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sharks backup goaltender Alex Stalock will make his third straight start. Stalock is still battling a cold, but No. 1 goaltender Antti Niemi feels even worse.

"I'm all right," Stalock said between coughs.

Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body) will miss his second straight game. McLellan said he hopes Vlasic can return to the lineup Friday against the Arizona Coyotes but called him day-to-day.

Sharks rookie defenseman Mirco Mueller (left hand) will miss his third straight game and won't play again during the regular season, McLellan said.

Colorado forward Freddie Hamilton will face the Sharks for the first time since they traded him to the Avalanche for prospect Karl Stollery on March 2. The Avalanche recalled Hamilton from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League on March 7, and he scored his first NHL goal March 19, a game-winner against Arizona.

"I'm sure there will be a little extra [adrenaline]," said Hamilton, who played 11 games for San Jose, which drafted him in the fifth round (No. 129) of the 2010 NHL Draft. "We'll see though. I think there's been adrenaline for me every game so far, trying to make a first impression with a new team."

Hamilton was playing for Worcester of the AHL when he was traded.

Former Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart will play his first game in San Jose since being traded to Colorado on July 1 for a second-round draft pick in 2016 and a sixth-round pick in 2017.

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Alex Tanguay

John Mitchell - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Dennis Everberg

Jordan Caron - Joey Hishon - Freddie Hamilton

Jan Hejda - Zach Redmond

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Brad Stuart - Nick Holden

Reto Berra

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: None

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (fractured kneecap), Daniel Briere (foot), Erik Johnson (knee), Jamie McGinn (back surgery), Nathan MacKinnon (broken foot), Borna Rendulic (broken leg), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

SHARKS

Melker Karlsson - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tomas Hertl

Matt Nieto - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels

John Scott - Ben Smith - Barclay Goodrow

Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun

Scott Hannan - Brent Burns

Matt Irwin - Taylor Fedun

Alex Stalock

Antti Niemi

Scratched: None

Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Mike Brown (leg), Mirco Mueller (left hand), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body)

Status report: Brown skated again, but will miss his 47th straight game. McLellan said he hopes Brown can return to the lineup Friday or Saturday when the Sharks play back-to-back games against Arizona. ... Berra will make his third start in the past five games and first since making 33 saves in a 4-1 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Who's hot: O'Reilly has an eight-game point streak with five goals and eight assists. ... Tanguay has three goals and three assists in his past five games. ... Iginla has two goals and three assists in his past four games. ... Couture has two goals and two assists in his past three games. ... Tierney has two goals and two assists in his past four games.

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