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Preview: One last swim with the Sharks in California

Can Colorado beat the Sharks in two straight contests?

Colorado Avalanche v San Jose Sharks Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche continue their west coast road trip with another game against the San Jose Sharks in San Jose, CA. The Avalanche survived a Sharks comeback the last time these two met, with Nathan MacKinnon winning the game in overtime and securing his 100th regular season point. Will the Sharks play spoiler, or are the Avalanche on a path toward another division title?

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche are in a great spot heading into the last six games of the regular season. They technically lead the division due to tiebreakers but are tied with Minnesota and Dallas with 98 points on the season. Colorado plays the fewest playoff-bound teams of these three teams chasing a division title. The Avs have a game in hand on both the Wild and Stars. To say they control their own destiny is putting it lightly.

As mentioned, Nathan MacKinnon secured his 100th regular season point last time. Unfortunately, despite numerous opportunities, Mikko Rantanen has yet to get his 50th goal. In fact, it looked like the Avalanche powerplay suffered a bit when Colorado was clearly focused on getting Mikko his 50th. Let's be wise, though. He got 49 by playing within the system. They need to play Avalanche hockey. He'll get the goal.

Projected Lineup:

Evan Rodrigues — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Denis Malgin — J.T. Compher — Valeri Nuchushkin
Andrew Cogliano — Lars Eller — Logan O'Connor
Ben Meyers — Alex Newhook — Matthew Nieto

Samuel Girard — Devon Toews
Jack Johnson — Bowen Byram
Kurtis MacDermid — Erik Johnson

Note: We didn't see Cale Makar or Darren Helm against the Sharks last time out. I understand that both need some maintenance heading into the playoffs.

San Jose Sharks

The Sharks had won three straight games before Tuesday's overtime loss to the Avalanche and, honestly, gave the Avalanche all they could handle. For a team that was a Bedard sweepstakes front-runner to be putting in this sort of effort speaks to their professionalism and leadership. Management still wants the best shot at Bedard, but asking professionals to let up or tank is tough.

The Sharks leaned pretty heavily on their goaltending on Tuesday as well. They will have to do the same tonight against an Avalanche team that scores and can score quickly.

Projected Lineup:

Jacob Peterson — Tomas Hertl — Noah Gregor
Thomas Bordeleau — Logan Couture — Danil Gushchin
Evgeny Svechnikov — Nico Sturm — Kevin Labanc
Jacob MacDonald — Steven Lorentz — Fabian Zetterlund

Marc-Edouard Vlasic — Erik Karlsson
Mario Ferraro — Matt Benning
Henry Thrun — Radim Simek

Note: Alexander Barabanov and Oskar Lindblom are listed as day-to-day for San Jose.


Tonight's starter will either be Alexandar Georgiev again or current backup Jonas Johansson. Jacob Weindling predicted Jo Jo would get a shutout this week on the most recent edition of the Mile High Hockey Lab, so we will potentially see about that. Jo Jo has been solid in his backup appearances, with Pavel Francouz still on the mend. Since Varlamov’s prime window, Georgie looks like Colorado’s best keeper in years. Keeping shouldn’t be a concern for Colorado which is a nice change.

For the Sharks, it will once again be Kaapo Kahkonen in net. Kahkonen was arguably San Jose's best player on Tuesday night. Is he primed for a repeat performance, or will the damn burst?