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Second Round

Sharks vs. Avalanche playoff preview

Performance of special teams among storylines to watch for San Jose, Colorado in second round

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche

Sharks: Defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in best-of-7 Western Conference First Round

Avalanche: Defeated the Calgary Flames 4-1 in best-of-7 Western Conference First Round

Season series: SJS 3-0-0; COL: 0-3-0

 

[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

The skinny

The San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche will face off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth time, first since 2010. Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round is at SAP Center on Friday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS).

The Sharks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 in overtime of Game 7, rallying after trailing 3-0 in the third period, and came back from down 3-1 in the series to advance to the second round for the second straight season and third time in the past four.

"It's a special group," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. "We rallied like that all year at different points, even early in the series here when we were down 3-0 (in Game 2). People have written them off, or down and out ... there's a lot of belief in there."

The Avalanche, who were the second Western wild card, won four straight first-round games against the Calgary Flames after losing 4-0 in Game 1.

San Jose outscored Colorado 14-9 and won two one-goal games in the regular season.

Video: Avalanche look to keep the magic going against Sharks

"They're a real good team, a 100-point team," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "Big, strong, fast, lots of shooters, mobile [defensemen], they're getting the goaltending now. They're a tough team, no question. They've given us trouble all year."

San Jose and Colorado have split their previous four playoff series. The Sharks won the past two, including a six-game victory in the 2010 first round.

The Avalanche have not played since Friday but said they don't think the long layoff will be a factor.

"I think everybody's mind is in the right place," center Nathan MacKinnon said. "No one's comfortable, no one's satisfied. It's one round. I think the West is wide open."

Video: CGY@COL, Gm4: MacKinnon sets up Rantanen for PPG

 

Game breakers

Sharks: They had four players score at least 30 goals during the regular season: Joe Pavelski (38), Tomas Hertl (35), Timo Meier (30) and Evander Kane (30). Hertl and Logan Couture led San Jose in the first round with six goals each; no one else had more than two. Erik Karlsson led them in points with nine (all assists). Brent Burns, who led NHL defensemen in the regular season with 83 points (16 goals, 67 assists), had four points (one goal, three assists).

Avalanche: MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen carried the Avalanche during the regular season, combining for 261 points (106 goals, 155 assists), and kept it going in the first round, combining for 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in the five games against the Flames, and were a combined plus-7. Defensemen Tyson Barrie (five assists) and Cale Makar (one goal, one assist), who made his NHL debut in Game 3, also could be catalysts in the second round.

Video: VGK@SJS, Gm7: Couture wires home wrister for PPG

 

Goaltending

Sharks: After Martin Jones allowed 13 goals on 80 shots in Games 1-4 and was pulled twice, he made the save on 122 of 129 shots (.946 save percentage) with San Jose facing elimination in Games 5-7. That included 30 saves in a 5-2 win in Game 5, and a Sharks-record 58 saves in a 2-1 double-overtime win in Game 6. Jones made 34 saves in Game 7. Backup Aaron Dell is 0-1 and has allowed seven goals on 64 shots in four NHL playoff games, all in relief.

Avalanche: Philipp Grubauer was 4-1 with a 1.90 goals-against average and .939 save percentage against the Flames. This followed his strong end to the regular season, when he went 9-2-2 with a 1.44 GAA, a .956 save percentage and three shutouts in his final 14 games. Backup Semyon Varlamov did not play in the first round. He was 20-19-9 with a 2.87 GAA, a .909 save percentage and two shutouts in the regular season, and is 13-13 with a 2.57 GAA, a .915 save percentage and two shutouts in 26 NHL playoff games.

 

Numbers to know

Sharks: They're 8-for-34 on the power play in the playoffs and have allowed two shorthanded goals. They scored four times on a five-minute power play in the third period of Game 7. San Jose gave up eight goals on 24 power-play opportunities in Games 1-5 but was 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in Games 6 and 7. Barclay Goodrow scored two goals in the first round, each a game-winner. Joe Thornton is one assist from 100 in his career in the NHL playoffs.

Avalanche: They were 5-for-25 on the power play in the first round (20.0 percent). MacKinnon had a point on each of the power-play goals (two goals, three assists). The penalty kill allowed five goals on 22 opportunities (76.9 percent) but scored two shorthanded goals, each by former Sharks forward Matt Nieto. Colorado ranks first with 41.0 shots per game in the postseason but is last in face-off winning percentage (40.7).

Video: VGK@SJS, Gm7: Goodrow nets series-winner in OT

 

Injury report

Sharks: Pavelski left Game 7 with an undisclosed injury after he was cross-checked by Cody Eakin. His status for Game 1 is unknown. Forward Micheal Haley has missed four games with a lower-body injury.

Avalanche: Defenseman Samuel Girard, who has missed three games with an upper-body injury, practiced this week in a non-contact jersey, but there is no timeframe for his return, although Bednar said he could play in Game 1. Forward Derick Brassard missed three games because of an illness but is expected to play.

 

They said it

"The leadership is the best I've ever been around. ... Very fortunate as a coach to be around people like [Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski]. You don't have to say a lot. They are driving the bus." -- Sharks coach Peter DeBoer

"Our guys should be confident based on the way we played down the stretch and in the playoffs. At the same time, we know that San Jose is a really good team and we're going to have to play our best. We're going to have to be even better than we were against Calgary in order to beat them. They understand that, but I think that we all believe it's possible if we play the way that we can. That to me is the starting point to this series." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar

 

Will win if…

Sharks: They can get more scoring outside of the top line, and Jones plays like he did in the final three games of the first round and not the first four. The Sharks had five players score at least two goals and nine with at least four points in the first round. Special teams must improve for San Jose to advance.

Avalanche: They pressure the Sharks like they did the Flames with more than 40 shots on goal per game. The scoring was spread throughout the top three lines, and they likely will need that again. If Grubauer, who allowed four goals on 14 shots in 25:59 of a 5-4 loss to the Sharks on Jan. 2, can keep up his play from the past two months, Colorado should be in good shape. The penalty kill also needs to improve.

 

How they look

Sharks projected lineup

Timo Meier -- Logan Couture -- Gustav Nyquist

Evander Kane -- Tomas Hertl -- Joonas Donskoi

Marcus Sorensen -- Joe Thornton -- Kevin Labanc

Melker Karlsson -- Barclay Goodrow -- Lukas Radil

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon -- Erik Karlsson

Joakim Ryan -- Justin Braun

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Tim Heed, Radim Simek, Dylan Gambrell

 

Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Alexander Kerfoot

Colin Wilson -- Carl Soderberg -- Mikko Rantanen

Derick Brassard -- J.T. Compher -- Matt Nieto

Matt Calvert -- Tyson Jost -- Gabriel Bourque

Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyson Barrie

Cale Makar -- Ian Cole

Philipp Grubauer

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Mark Barberio, Ryan Graves, Sven Andrighetto, Patrik Nemeth

NHL.com correspondent Rick Sadowski contributed to this report

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