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A quirk in the schedule has the Colorado Avalanche about to make their only visit of the season to Northern California — and perhaps not a moment too soon for the San Jose Sharks.
Looking to end a late-season swoon
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, San Jose will try to extend its dominance on home ice over playoff-hopeful Colorado on Thursday night.
The Sharks’ losing streak reached four after falling 4-2 to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. San Jose gave up three goals in the final 5:17 and managed one shot on goal in the third period.
“Tough lesson learned, but we still control our own destiny,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said.
San Jose (44-26-10) is second in the Pacific, one point over Anaheim and two ahead of Los Angeles. The Sharks, who have lost twice in overtime to the Wild this season, meet them in the season finale on Saturday at SAP Center.
Anaheim clinched a spot by beating the Wild on Wednesday
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, while Los Angeles clinched when St. Louis lost 4-3 to Chicago on Wednesday.
San Jose winger Logan Couture, who scored his team-high 33rd goal against the Stars, told the league’s official
that team must find a way to win again.
“We’re fighting for home ice in the first round here. We have to dial it up. You can’t coast for very long in the NHL and win hockey games,” he said.
San Jose has dropped both matchups with Colorado in Denver this season, but it’s been a much different story when the teams meet in the Bay Area.
The Sharks have won 15 of the last 16 matchups dating back to March 2009. San Jose has been held to fewer than three goals twice, while Colorado has scored one goal or fewer 10 times in those contests.
Martin Jones has two wins — but he also has the only loss — in that span versus the Avs. He also stopped only 34 of 41 shots in this season’s series. Jones
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, who still needs one win to reach 30 for the third time with San Jose, has been reached for 10 goals while losing three straight starts.
Aaron Dell has never faced Colorado, which fell to 1-3-1 in its last five games with a 3-1 loss to Los Angeles on Monday.
“Our mindset is we’re underdogs. We go out there, and we’re having fun. We have a young team, but there are still no excuses. We should be in this playoff spot, and we should be in the playoffs.” Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov said.
Colorado (42-29-9) holds a one-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card in the Western Conference. With one playoff spot up for grabs
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, the Avs and St. Louis each have two games left — and close the regular season against each other Saturday in Denver.
Saturday’s game will likely decide the final playoff spot. St. Louis plays at Chicago on Friday.
“We cannot control what the Blues did or what they are going to do later. We got one game against them, we got a game in San Jose. We need to focus, reload, and then go up there and win those two hockey games,” Zadorov added.
Jonathan Bernier has surrendered only four goals while beating the Sharks twice this season. Bernier, who’s taken over with Semyon Varlamov (knee) out for the season
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, has won each of his last two starts in San Jose.
Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are tied for the team lead with three points apiece against the Sharks this season.
MacKinnon, who leads the team with 94 points, needs two goals to reach 40 for the first time in his career. Rantanen is two goals shy of 30 for the season and 50 in his career.
The Pittsburgh Steelers released veteran safety J.J. Wilcox on Monday just days after selecting a pair of safeties in the NFL draft.
Wilcox played in 12 games for the Steelers in 2017 after Pittsburgh acquired him from Tampa Bay last September for late-round picks in both the 2018 and 2019 drafts. Wilcox had one interception with Pittsburgh while playing primarily as a reserve.
The Steelers have overhauled their defensive backfield in the offseason. Wilcox is the third safety to be released by Pittsburgh in the past two months, joining Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden.
The Steelers drafted two safeties over the weekend, taking Terrell Edmunds out of Virginia Tech in the first round and Penn State's Marcus Allen in the fifth.
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