The Sharks (24-13-6, 2nd Pacific) visit the Colorado Avalanche (24-16-3, 6th Central) for the first time this season hoping to log their road trip into the books with a perfect record. After walloping the Kings in Los Angeles and sqeaking by the Coyotes in Glendale, San Jose could end their first road trip of 2018 at 3-0-0 with a win tonight. Unfortunately, the red hot Avalanche may have something to say about that.
The Avs are soaring, and a win tonight would mark an eight game winning streak, which would be their longest since January 2006. They've given up a total of ten goals in that streak, trailed their opponents for exactly zero minutes, and hold a 12-3-1 record in their last 16. Young-but-not-quite-as-young-as-you-think former first overall pick Nathan MacKinnon is starting to generate some Hart Trophy buzz and he tries to drag this team kicking and screaming into the post season as he leads the team in goals (20), assists (34), and, necessarily, points (54). MacKinnon has five goals and nine assists during a seven game point streak, and 21 points in his last 13 games.
The fall of starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov seems not to have hindered their ascent into relevance either, as secondary backstop Jonathan Bernier has fashioned a streak of his own, winning his last six starts, and posting a goals against average of 1.97 and a save percentage of .962 during that span. If there's anything that consistently stymies this Sharks team, it's backup goaltenders, and this one has a hot hand already.
On the other side, the Sharks are doing just fine on their own, thank you very much. That is, as long as you just look at the standings and didn't watch either Arizona game. Despite struggling to pull two overtime victories away from the worst team in the league, the Sharks are 3-0-0 since their bye week, and have made good on a few of their games in hand over their divisional rivals, vaulting up into second place in the Pacific. Joe Thornton and Mikkel Boedker both have goals in their last two straight games, and Joonas Donskoi, while held pointless Tuesday night, has become a one man nuclear arsenal, as San Jose's offence may be starting to wake up just in time for a brutal stretch of games heading into the All-Star break.
Unfortunately for Colorado, their schedule may have something to say about the nature of their climb. After tonight, the Avs wrap up this homestand against the New York Rangers, then head out for 13 of their next 16 games on the road. Additionally, the Central division is the new Thunderdome, and sitting eight points above NHL-fake-parity-loser-point .500 has them two points back of the second Western Conference wild card spot with one measly game in hand over the Kings. Tonight could be that game.
Let's not, though.
Timo Meier -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Kevin Labanc
Mikkel Boedker -- Chris Tierney -- Joonas Donskoi
Barclay Goodrow -- Joel Ward -- Melker Karlsson
Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Jannik Hansen, Tim Heed
Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen
Dominic Toninato -- Alexander Kerfoot -- Nail Yakupov
Matt Nieto -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau
Colin Wilson -- J.T. Compher -- Gabriel Bourque
Nikita Zadorov -- Erik Johnson
Patrik Nemeth -- Mark Barberio
Samuel Girard -- Anton Lindholm
Scratched: A.J. Greer, David Warsofsky
Injured: Sven Andrighetto (lower body), Tyson Barrie (fractured hand), Tyson Jost (leg), Vladislav Kamenev (fractured arm), Semyon Varlamov (lower body)
Ryan O'Reilly trade chip Compher will draw in after missing six games to replace Jost, who is day-to-day after Monday night's win over the Anaheim Ducks. The Avs also recalled UMD product Toninato up from the AHL in order to sit Greer. Barrie, Andrighetto, and Varlamov are all recovering on schedule, and all three skated before practice this morning.
Where to Watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, ALT
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App