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Sharks vs. Avalanche Preview: Welcome to the Matt Nieto Bowl

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This is the last time the Avs come to town.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

It took Matt Nieto 20 games and a change of uniform to score his first goal of the season. Now with the Colorado Avalanche, the winger has had the benefit of playing with Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog for a struggling squad. He returns to San Jose for the first, and possibly only time, since being waived by the Sharks early in January.

That’s the most compelling storyline entering Saturday’s contest, which gets going at 7:30 p.m. at SAP Center. The Avalanche enter the game with the worst record in the NHL while the Sharks look to win their fourth-straight game to close out a two-game homestand. The teams will meet again in a home-and-home series on Monday as the Sharks begin a road back-to-back.

Nieto scored 70 points in 221 games with the Sharks. He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft and attended Boston University. Nieto has two points in five games with the Avalanche; he had the same number of points in 16 contests in San Jose while playing with much poorer competition.

With Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi back in the lineup it seems the Sharks are back (mostly) healthy again with only the status of Micheal Haley and Timo Meier yet to be decided. Meier should be back in the lineup tonight if his injury is as minor as the Sharks suggested, which will likely force out one of Tommy Wingels (likely) or Ryan Carpenter (doubt it).

Aaron Dell got the start against Tampa Bay on Thursday which means we’re likely to see Martin Jones back between the pipes tonight. I expect we see Dell back in net against the Avalanche on Monday, though it wouldn’t be shocking to see Dell get both games against Colorado and Jones against Winnipeg on Tuesday before the All-Star Break.