NHL

Avalanche-Sharks Preview

San Jose has been impressive offensively during a nine-game point streak. Extending it in a matchup with the streaking Colorado Avalanche might prove difficult.

The Avalanche try for a season-high fifth straight win in the second game of a three-game road trip Tuesday night, while the Sharks conclude a span of six of seven at home having finally developed some confidence in their own building.

Colorado (26-21-3) is coming off Saturday's 3-1 win over Dallas, with Carl Soderberg and Gabriel Landeskog scoring short-handed goals. The Avalanche were outshot 43-15, though they saw it as the kind of win they'll occasionally need to keep pace in the competitive Central Division.

"This one goes under the category of an ugly win, and we're happy with that," Landeskog told the team's official website. "To be a good team and be a playoff team, you have to be able to win these ugly ones."

The extended results haven't looked that way. It was the fourth straight game in which they held an opponent to one goal, and they've averaged one against over a 5-1-0 span. The Avalanche have given up 2.29 goals per game in a 14-5-2 stretch after allowing 2.93 during a 12-16-1 start.

That's had plenty to do with Semyon Varlamov, though backup Calvin Pickard will face the Sharks after Varlamov started for second straight time and third in four games. Pickard, 23, has been impressive in his three starts, going 2-1-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average.

He's been substantially better on the road in his career, going 3-2-2 with a 1.82 GAA as a starter compared to 3-5-1 with a 2.80 mark in nine home starts. He won 6-3 at San Jose on Dec. 28 with 35 saves.

The teams have split two games this season, with Colorado's victory snapping a 13-game road skid in the series. Nathan MacKinnon scored three goals Dec. 28 and has six in seven career contests against San Jose.

Patrick Marleau scored for the Sharks and has 11 goals and eight assists in his last 15 against the Avalanche.

San Jose (25-18-4) is coming off Sunday's 3-2 overtime home loss to Los Angeles, though it's 7-0-2 in its last nine. That includes a 4-0-2 home mark after starting the season 5-12-0 at the Shark Tank.

Even so, the Sharks allowed Vincent Lecavalier to tie it with 13 seconds left for the Pacific Division leader.

"Obviously we want to hunt them down," coach Peter DeBoer told the team's official website. "They didn't lock up the division tonight that I know of, did they? So we like how we're playing and we're going to chase them right to the final buzzer."

Logan Couture scored for the third time in eight games after going without a goal in his first nine contests of a season disrupted by a broken leg. Joe Pavelski scored in a second straight game and Joe Thornton's assist brought his point streak to nine.

Thornton has 23 points in his last 18 after being held to 16 through 29.

"We have a great feeling in this locker room," he said. "We feel we have our home game in control now. It took us a while, but we feel confident at home, and our road record speaks for itself. We thought we had them. But that's hockey.

"It's a good hockey team and you can't hang your heads after a lot like that. We played great and we'll get better results in the future."

Martin Jones, whose six-game winning streak came to an end Sunday, is 3-1-0 against the Avalanche despite a 3.46 GAA.

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