NHL

Avalanche-Sharks Preview

At least publicly, San Jose and Colorado remain hopeful while the prospects of both reaching the postseason continue to fade.

As each club looks to bounce back from a costly defeat, the Sharks try for a 13th straight regular-season home victory over the Avalanche on Wednesday night.

San Jose (37-30-9) earned five points in the final three games of a 3-3-1 trip but sits 11th in the Western Conference and eight points back of Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division with six games remaining. The Sharks' run of 10 consecutive seasons with a playoff appearance is second to Detroit's 23.

"(The players) are going to keep playing. They're proud players," coach Todd McLellan told the NHL's official website. "We go until somebody tells us we can't go anymore and that's the attitude they've taken. Will it continue? I expect it to. We're not out of it yet. We're still not out of it.

"There's people probably watching and reading, going 'This guy's nuts.' But who knows? We'll see."

Also with six games left, Colorado (35-29-12) is one point behind San Jose.

''We are going to believe in ourselves until it's over,'' Avs coach Patrick Roy said. ''I'm going to push and that's all I'm thinking. It's the way I am. I like to think the players will do the same.''

Colorado didn't help its cause by losing for the second time in one week to lowly Edmonton, 4-1 at home on Monday for its fourth defeat in six contests.

"From the get-go, it didn't feel like we were ready to compete, and to compete hard enough to win a hockey game,'' captain Gabriel Landeskog said.

''It doesn't matter where a team is in the standings or who you're playing, if they're out-competing you and working harder than you, they're ultimately going to beat you. ... It's unacceptable."

Things likely won't get any easier for the Avs, who have won once in their last 15 overall games at San Jose. They are 0-8-4 there during the regular season since a 3-1 victory Feb. 6, 2008.

The Sharks, however, are 3-8-2 at home since the start of February and have averaged 2.0 goals over the last nine there. They've also been held to two or fewer non-shootout goals in nine of the last 11 overall and went 2 for 10 on the power play in the last two.

"We've got to find a way to score,'' said Sharks forward Logan Couture, who scored for the second time in three games during Sunday's 3-2 shootout loss at Pittsburgh. ''We have to."

Couture had the tying goal in the third period of a 3-2 shootout win at Colorado on Oct. 28.

Teammate Antti Niemi, who made 31 saves in that contest, has a 1.93 goals-against average during his six-game home winning streak against the Avs. However, it's uncertain if he'll be ready after sitting out Sunday's game due to an illness.

Niemi has allowed four goals in each of his last two starts and gave up five in a 6-2 defeat to Chicago in San Jose's most recent home game March 14.

Colorado's Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 49 shots against the Sharks in October, is 0-3-2 with a 3.96 GAA at San Jose.

Teammate Ryan O'Reilly has five goals with eight assists during a career-high eight-game point streak. He has two and six assists in his last nine versus San Jose.

Out since Jan. 21 with a knee injury, Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson is expected to practice Tuesday and could play before the season ends.

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