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At the Rink: Avalanche at Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- Veteran forward Joel Ward will return to the lineup for the San Jose Sharks against the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNW, ALT, CSN-CA) when they try to end a three-game home losing streak.

Ward (upper body) missed the past two games after being injured Dec. 18 against the Ottawa Senators. He went into the boards with his head and shoulder after a hit from behind by Ottawa's Mark Borowiecki. Ward, who ranks fourth on the Sharks in goals (10) and points (23), will skate on the second line with center Patrick Marleau and left wing Matt Nieto.

"I feel pretty good," Ward said after the morning skate at the Sharks' practice facility. "I'm looking forward to getting back out there for sure. The Christmas holiday there kind of helped."

The Sharks will play their first game since Tuesday, when they came from behind to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 5-3 at Staples Center. The Sharks improved to 13-6-2 on the road with their victory against the Kings, but they're 4-9-0 at SAP Center, where they'll play 11 of their next 14 games.

Coach Peter DeBoer has been searching for ways to get the Sharks untracked at home, and he decided to move all morning skates from SAP Center to their practice facility at Sharks Ice.

"One, this is the best facility we have," DeBoer said of the switch. "We put a lot of money in here, from rehab to room to stretch to the weight room to the tubs. Everything's better here. This is the best place we could show up and work out of, and the guys like being around here. And two, it's a little different. I'm hopeful that when we show up at the big rink there's an excitement to play. You haven't been there four or five hours earlier."

Ward said he's fine with the switch.

"I've done it before in the past," Ward said. "It's not like it's a big deal. Just to switch things up a little bit. Hopefully it gives us a little bit of a spark and turns things about a little bit."

The Sharks are 0-9-0 at home when allowing the first goal.

"Just a weird stat," Ward said. "I don't know how to explain it. We've been down at home, we tried to crawl our way back but just kind of came up short. Either way, we got to battle and we got to work hard for a full 60."

Colorado, which did not have a morning skate, ended its five-day Christmas break with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes at Pepsi Center on Sunday. Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla scored his 599th career goal in that game. He'll have a chance against San Jose to become the 19th player in NHL history with 600 goals.

Colorado backup goaltender Calvin Pickard will make his first NHL start of the season. Pickard was called up Friday from San Antonio of the American Hockey League in the wake of an ankle injury to goaltender Reto Berra.

Pickard made two relief appearances for the Avalanche during a stint from Nov. 11-22 while goaltender Semyon Varlamov was battling a groin injury.

Pickard went 6-7-3 with a 2.35 goals-against average and .932 save percentage for Colorado in 16 games last season. In 21 games for San Antonio this season, he went 9-8-4 with a 2.75 GAA and .917 save percentage.

"I think regardless of who's playing in net for them, we're starting right after the break," DeBoer said. "I think everybody's game plan is the same in these first couple games after the break, get as many pucks to the net as you can. Keep the game simple, don't beat yourself, don't turn the puck over. So I think all those things apply. But even more importantly after layoffs."

Here are the projected lineups:


Gabriel Landeskog - John Mitchell - Matt Duchene

Alex Tanguay - Nathan MacKinnon - Jarome Iginla

Andreas Martinsen - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Cody McLeod - Mikhail Grigorenko - Jack Skille

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Brandon Gormley - Zach Redmond

Calvin Pickard

Semyon Varlamov

Injured: Reto Berra (ankle), Ben Street (chest), Brad Stuart (back), Jesse Winchester (head)

Scratched: Nate Guenin, Chris Wagner


Dainius Zubrus - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Matt Nieto - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels

Melker Karlsson - Tomas Hertl - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun

Paul Martin - Brent Burns

Dylan DeMelo - Brenden Dillon

Martin Jones

Alex Stalock

Injured: Logan Couture (thigh)

Scratched: Ben Smith, Matt Tennyson

Status update: Smith is a healthy scratch after playing back-to-back games while Ward was out. … Guenin (head) had been cleared to play Sunday but was a healthy scratch. He has played 23 games this season and might return to the lineup, most likely for Gormley, who was in the lineup Sunday after being a healthy scratch four straight games.

Who's hot: Pavelski has a five-game point streak with five goals and five assists. … Thornton has a five-game point streak with two goals and five assists. … Iginla (two goals, one assist) and Mitchell (one goal, two assists) have three-game point streaks.

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