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Sharks surging toward playoffs

PA Stats Inc
By:
The Hockey News
News

Sharks surging toward playoffs

PA Stats Inc
By:

By Tom Castro
Stats Senior Editor

Colorado (32-44-2) at San Jose (52-16-11), 10:30 p.m. EDT

SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks have never won
the Presidents' Trophy, given to the team with the NHL's best
record. With plenty of motivation to reach that goal and three
weak opponents remaining, they've never been in better position
to do so.

The surging Sharks look to move closer to clinching home-ice
advantage throughout the playoffs when they host the Colorado
Avalanche on Tuesday night.

San Jose (52-16-11) tops the league with 115 points, three more
than Eastern-Conference leading Boston. While the Bruins have
four games remaining to the Sharks' three, San Jose can secure
the best record by winning out - something that should be very
achievable given its remaining schedule.

The Sharks' final three opponents - Colorado, Phoenix and Los
Angeles - are the bottom three teams in the West.

"We'll see. Hopefully, we hang on to that top spot," center
Jeremy Roenick said after scoring a goal Sunday night in San
Jose's fourth win in five games, 3-2 at Anaheim.

Two of the Sharks' remaining games are at home, where they're a
league-best 31-4-4. That gaudy mark makes securing home ice
throughout the postseason all the more important for a team
that's in the midst of the best season in franchise history.

The Pacific Division rival Ducks represented San Jose's final
opponent with playoff motivation as the Sharks enter the final
week of the season.

"These are fun games to be a part of. I mean, it's Anaheim. We
get up to play those guys and I'm sure they get up to play us,"
said forward Jonathan Cheechoo, who scored his third goal in
four games Sunday. "But they're all big right now."

The Sharks have had little trouble this season against the
woeful Avalanche (32-44-2), who are in the West cellar. San Jose
has won all three meetings, taking the most recent matchup 3-1
on March 22, and is 5-1-0 in the previous six games between the
teams.

San Jose's Milan Michalek has managed one goal in his last four
games since a six-game point streak, but he's been too much for
the Avalanche to handle this season with five goals and an
assist in three matchups.

Evgeni Nabokov got the night off Sunday after starting
Saturday's 5-2 loss to Anaheim, and the Sharks' top goaltender
is likely to be back in net Tuesday looking to rebound. Before
giving up five goals to the Ducks, he had allowed four goals in
his previous three starts - all wins.

Colorado snapped an eight-game losing streak Sunday night,
defeating Vancouver 4-1. Milan Hejduk had a goal and two assists
and Peter Budaj made 20 saves for Colorado, which has scored the
fewest goals and allowed the most in the West.

Calgary native T.J. Galiardi, one of a franchise-record 10
players to make his NHL debut for Avalanche this season, scored
twice against the Flames.

"My parents were here and my dad is a big Calgary fan so he was
saying to get the win for them because obviously Vancouver is on
their tail, so it's kind of funny it worked out that way,"
Galiardi said. "But we're more focused on ourselves in here, and
we want to finish the year off hard."

Colorado captain Joe Sakic, who hopes to return this season
after missing all but 15 games because of back and hand
injuries, took part in the Sunday morning skate but isn't sure
he'll play in any of the Avs' final four games.

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Sharks surging toward playoffs