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San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche
When and Where: Wednesday, Jan. 2, Pepsi Center, Denver, Colo., 9:30 p.m. EST.
Perhaps on the verge of breaking through but also looking to avoid a sixth consecutive loss, the Colorado Avalanche try to regain their bearings Wednesday night as their homestand continues against the San Jose Sharks.
Sharks come undone in wild loss to Flames
San Jose (21-13-7) is trying to wrap up a three-game road swing with a winning record after two high-scoring contests in Alberta.
After a 7-4 victory in Edmonton, the Sharks had their worst defensive effort of the season Monday night as they closed out 2018 with an 8-5 setback to Calgary. Joonas Donskoi pulled San Jose within 5-4 in the first minute of the third period, but the Flames responded with three goals in a 3:29 span to put the game out of reach.
Put. It. Home. pic.twitter.com/1wxHoHvRLp
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) January 1, 2019
“We’ll take a little bit to think about it, I think,” San Jose forward Evander Kane told the league’s official website. “I think there’s some things we can learn from, not just with the score or our play but as a team growing.”
Donskoi finished with two goals while Kane and Erik Karlsson each had two assists. Karlsson stretched his point streak to 10 games, racking up a goal and 15 assists. He has a goal and seven helper in his last three games.
Martin Jones is expected to be in net after Aaron Dell took one for the team and let up all eight goals Monday night. Jones has won his last two starts and is 5-1-1 in his last seven decisions with a 2.76 goals-against average in eight starts.
Jones is 7-3-1 lifetime against Colorado with a 2.81 GAA but lost both his starts at the Pepsi Center last season. He did win the most recent matchup, turning aside 23 shots in a 4-2 win April 5.
Avs in worst skid since late 2016-17
Colorado (19-13-8) has fallen off the blistering pace Winnipeg has set in the Central Division, with its five-game losing streak dropping it six points behind the Jets.
The Avalanche have claimed points in the last two defeats by getting to overtime as they have not lost six in a row since dropping seven straight from March 18-29, 2017.
“You got to find a way to close out the games,” head coach Jared Bednar told the Denver Post after the Avs fell to 1-8 in overtime. “It could be the difference between getting in the playoffs and not getting into the playoffs. It’s big points.”
MacKinnon has three goals and an assist in a four-game point streak and is tied with Gabriel Landeskog for the team lead with 24 goals. Bednar’s decision to break up his big line by dropping Landeskog to the second line has yet to pay dividends as Colorado has scored more than two goals just once in its last seven contests.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 1, 2019
Philipp Grubauer will get the start in goal for the Avs after Semyon Varlamov stopped 15 of 18 shots Monday night. Grubauer is 1-3-1 with a 3.44 GAA in his last five starts and seven overall appearances but has a strong track record versus San Jose, going 2-1-1 with a 1.48 GAA and one shutout in four career matchups.
The Avalanche are:
- 0-4 in their last four games after scoring two or fewer goals in the previous game.
- 1-4 in their last five home games.
- 15-37 in their last 52 games vs. Pacific Division opponents.
- The over is 5-2 in their last seven games vs. Pacific Division teams.
- The over is 4-1 in their last five home games vs. the Sharks.
The Sharks are:
- 4-1 in their last five road games.
- 21-8 in their last 29 games following a loss by three or more goals.
- 20-9 in their last 29 games vs. the Avalanche.
- The over is 8-1-1 in their last 10 games vs. the Avalanche.
- The over is 4-1 in their last five road games.
- The over is 3-0-1 in their last four games vs. Western Conference teams.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The loss at Calgary may have been a one-off for San Jose, which essentially let Dell hang out to dry. Otherwise, it was just the second time in 11 games the Sharks failed to register a point. Peter DeBoer’s team has its offense clicking, especially in 5-on-5 situations as it has chalked up 41 goals in those 11 games at even strength.
For the Avalanche, they just have not gotten over the hump of late, though they are drawing closer. Colorado also needs to re-ignite its power play, going 4 for 29 (13.8 percent) over its last seven games — well off its 26.6 percent season conversion rate. That may require Bednar to reunite his top trio among other tinkering he may need to do.
Prediction: Pick: Sharks -110
Full-Game Total Pick
Though Grubauer has a solid track record against San Jose, the Sharks are a team that thinks offense first. It may also give Colorado a chance to snap out of its offensive doldrums by getting into an up-and-down contest with San Jose that would give the over a good chance of hitting. This line moved to 6.5 goals during the overnight, which may be enough to scare away some, but the Sharks’ inconsistency on defense definitely allows the over an opportunity to clear.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 6 goals
Full-Game Prop Bet
The Sharks have been held under three goals just once in their last 11 games, and that came at home. DeBoer’s team has netted at least three goals in five straight road games and 24 of the 28 markers in that span have come at even strength.
Prediction: Pick: Sharks OVER 3 goals (-150)
Half-Time Side Pick
While there is temptation in taking the Sharks at +175 giving the half-goal in the first 20 minutes, the problem is San Jose has led at the first intermission just twice in its last 10 games. There is hope with Colorado being outscored 8-3 in the opening period of its last seven games, but the safer play for a win is the Sharks and the money line.
Prediction: Pick: Sharks -115
Half-Time Total Bet
There have been 17 first-period goals in San Jose’s last six games overall, and the Sharks have 50 goals in the opening 20 minutes this season. Colorado has not been as proficient with 32 goals, but its minus-6 net difference gives confidence in the over.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 1.5 goals (-140)