Avalanche vs. Sharks Preview
San Jose, CA (AP) - After piling up victories while spending most of February on the road, the San Jose Sharks open March with a season-high six-game homestand.
They'll begin the stretch against a Colorado Avalanche team they beat rather convincingly in their last home game.
The Pacific Division-leading Sharks look to extend their season-high winning streak to seven Tuesday night against the free-falling Avalanche, who haven't won at HP Pavilion in more than three years.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGLOBAL.com have made the Sharks -275 money line favorites for Tuesday's game against the Avalanche. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 83% of more than 785 bets for this game have been placed on the Sharks -275.
Despite playing all but three of its 13 February games on the road, San Jose (36-21-6) still went a Western Conference-best 11-2-0 last month. The Sharks, who decided not to make any moves at Monday's trade deadline, completed the daunting portion of their schedule with a 4-3 shootout win in Calgary on Friday.
San Jose, winner of six straight and 15 of 18, is in third place in the West but only seven points ahead of 11th-place Anaheim.
"We're not out of the danger zone yet," center Joe Thornton said. "We still have to continue to win and our fate is in our own hands. But we can't stop getting points. Every game is really important right now."
Ryane Clowe and Devin Setoguchi again led the Sharks on Friday, as each scored their 18th goal. Clowe has four goals in his last five games, while Setoguchi has six in his last four.
Setoguchi recorded his first career hat trick in a 4-0 win over Colorado on Feb. 19, the Sharks' last home game.
Clowe had the other goal and Antti Niemi made 25 saves as San Jose moved to 8-1-2 against the Avalanche since the 2008-09 season. The Sharks, winners of five straight home games, have outscored Colorado 15-5 in winning the last five meetings in San Jose since a 3-1 defeat Feb. 6, 2008.
Colorado's loss in San Jose two weeks ago marked its 10th straight defeat. The Avalanche (26-30-7) bounced back with a 4-3 win in St. Louis three days later but have since dropped their last three.
They suffered a 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Sunday, falling just short of forcing overtime when Milan Hejduk hit the post with a sharp-angle shot just before the final horn sounded.
"I thought it was our best game in a long time," coach Joe Sacco said. "We played as a team. We were alive and there was desperation in our game. Guys were playing for each other."
Although Sacco was pleased with the effort, the Avalanche, who were tied for seventh in the West before losing 13 of 14, still dropped to 0-25-3 when scoring fewer than three goals.
That doesn't bode well for Colorado if Niemi is between the pipes.
Niemi, who has started the past 18 games, is 10-2-0 with a 1.72 goals-against average and three shutouts in the last 12.
In addition to its offensive woes, Colorado's penalty-killing unit is also struggling. The Avalanche have allowed at least one power-play goal in a season-high eight straight games, killing just 23 of 34 penalties.The Sharks are 9 for 21 with the man advantage in their last six home games.
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