Avalanche host slumping Sharks

Either the San Jose Sharks or the Colorado Avalanche will match their longest losing streak of the season Tuesday night.

Judging by the teams’ most recent matchups, it would appear the Sharks have a better chance to avoid that fate as they visit the Pepsi Center to start a home-and-home series. The Avalanche, though, have been difficult to beat at home lately.

Most sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product have installed the Sharks as $1.50 road favorites, with the total set at 5 1/2 ‘under’ (minus $1.15).

San Jose (15-10-2) has stumbled since a 12-2-1 stretch from Oct. 21-Nov. 23. Its 3-2 overtime defeat in Chicago on Sunday was its second straight loss and sixth in eight games overall.

Defenseman Justin Braun’s first goal of the season gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead entering the third period, but they allowed the Blackhawks to tie it with 1:06 remaining in regulation. San Jose outshot Chicago 33-13 over the first two periods but were outshot a combined 21-4 in the third period and overtime.

“We played against a very good team and did very well for two periods,” coach Todd McLellan said. “It was pretty evident that one team have played three games in four nights and the other was fresh.

“We ran out of gas a little bit in the third and we lost a number of key faceoffs in the third period that allowed them to start with the puck and play in our end.”

The Sharks haven’t dropped three in a row since Oct. 14-17. They’re also 0-2-1 in their last three road games, their longest such skid since losing six in a row Oct. 24-Nov. 26, 2010.

Colorado also has endured struggles of late, getting outscored 13-3 over a busy stretch in its schedule.

Playing their third road game in four nights, the Avalanche fell 4-1 to Edmonton on Friday with the Oilers scoring two goals in the final minute in each of the first two periods.

“We got caught out of position too many times and they took advantage of it,” captain Milan Hejduk said. “We need to play with more pride. We didn’t execute. … We have to have a hard look in the mirror and bounce back.”

Bouncing back might prove difficult for the Avalanche (13-16-1), who have dropped three in a row to the Sharks while scoring a combined two goals over those games. Including a postseason matchup in 2010, San Jose is 7-0-1 in its last eight games against Colorado and 4-0-1 in its last five visits to the Pepsi Center.

A 4-1 win there Nov. 20 gave the Sharks their 10th victory in 13 regular-season meetings. Patrick Marleau recorded his first hat trick in two seasons during that win, but has one goal in his last nine games.

Leading scorer Joe Thornton is also slumping with only three assists in that span while Joe Pavelski, who has a team-best 12 goals, has been limited to one goal and one assist over this stretch.

Thornton has one goal and seven assists in his last six matchups versus Colorado, while Pavelski has four goals and four assists over his last eight.

The Avalanche, who dropped four in a row Nov. 2-8, might avoid matching that losing streak as they’ve won three straight at home and are seeking their first four-game run in Denver since Nov. 15-27, 2010.

The teams play again Thursday night.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.