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Avalanche aim to bounce back against Sharks

by Jon Lane

AVALANCHE (23-10-2) at SHARKS (22-8-6)


Last 10: Colorado 4-4-2; San Jose 4-5-1

Season Series: This is the first of four games between the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks. Matt Duchene's last-second overtime goal gave the Sharks a 3-2 win against the Avalanche on March 10.

Big Story: Although the Sharks' shootout victory against the Dallas Stars on Saturday was their third in the past nine games, they're seeking their 11th straight regular-season win against the Avalanche at SAP Center, where they've outscored Colorado 31-13 during the streak. In addition, San Jose is 7-0-1 in its past eight at home with a 12-1-3 record bested only by the Anaheim Ducks' 13-0-2 mark.

The Sharks received an impressive game from backup goalie Alex Stalock (44 saves) on Saturday, and although it's likely Antti Niemi will start Monday against Colorado, coach Todd McLellan hinted that Stalock could be in line for a greater workload, especially with Niemi likely to compete for Finland at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"He had a good night," McLellan said following the Sharks' optional skate Sunday. "They ended up with a lot of shots on goal. They fired and turned and fired again. He had to be in the game throughout and he didn’t get lapses or phases where he could fall asleep or get lackadaisical – not that he would."

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Despite Colorado's overall road success, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday dropped it to 1-2-1 on its past four away games. The Avalanche, though, played well enough to win. They rallied from a 2-0 deficit and were denied by a couple of great saves from Kings rookie goalie Martin Jones.

"I was very proud of our players," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "They showed a lot of character, because down 2-0 in L.A. is not easy. It was a big point for us, no doubt about it."

Sharks: San Jose will be without rookie Tomas Hertl (sprained right knee) for at least the next month, so McLellan shuffled his lines for the game Saturday. Joe Thornton centered Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski on one line, and Logan Couture skated between Brent Burns and Martin Havlat.

For much of the season, McLellan deployed Hertl with Thornton and Burns, but is now going through an adjustment period in Hertl's absence.

"We'll probably go through this for a little bit until we found something we feel comfortable with game in and game out," McLellan said Saturday. "Wasn't a Picasso by any means, but at this time of the year and maybe from now on through, to find a near-perfect game might exist."

Who's hot: Despite the loss Saturday in Los Angeles, Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov made 37 saves and has not lost in regulation since Dec. 10 (3-0-2). Duchene has two goals and seven assists in his past four games and 12 points in his past six … Thornton has five assists in his past five games for the Sharks and Pavelski has four goals in his past five games.

Injury report: Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay (sprained knee/hip) and defenseman Ryan Wilson (back) are out indefinitely … In addition to Hertl, the Sharks are without forwards Raffi Torres (right knee surgery) and Adam Burish (lower body).


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