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Sharks and Avs begin home-and-home in Denver

The San Jose Sharks will conclude a three-game road trip and-home set at the Pepsi Center.

San Jose is 0-1-1 on the swing and suffered a 3-2 overtime loss at Chicago on Sunday, as Patrick Sharp's goal with 34 seconds left in overtime lifted the Blackhawks to victory and sent San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi home a loser. Niemi made 31 saves in defeat for the Sharks, who have lost two straight and six of their last eight games.

Jamie McGinn and Justin Braun both scored in a losing cause. San Jose is 7-4-1 as the visitor and sits one point behind Dallas and Phoenix for the top spot in the Pacific Division.

"We played against a very good team and did very well for two periods," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said. "It was pretty evident that one team have played three games in four nights and the other was fresh."

Sharks defenseman Jim Vandermeer missed his third game because of an upper- body injury and is listed as questionable. The team also activated goaltender Antero Niittymaki from injured reserve Monday and assigned him to Worcester of the American Hockey League for conditioning. Forward Andrew Desjardins was fined $2,500 Monday for boarding Blackhawks defenseman Sami Lepisto over the weekend.

After tonight's game the Sharks will head back home for a six-game residency versus the Avs, Oilers, Lightning, Kings, Ducks and Canucks. San Jose, which will host Colorado on Thursday, is winless in three straight games as the guest.

Colorado hopes to put the brakes on a three-game losing streak when it returns to the Rocky Mountains this evening for a showdown with the Sharks. The Avalanche went winless on their recent three-game trek (0-3-0) and suffered a 4-1 loss the last time out on Friday at Edmonton.

Jay McClement scored and netminder Semyon Varlamov gave up all four goals on 35 shots in the loss.

"It hurts anytime that you start a game with a goal against you early," said Colorado head coach Joe Sacco. "They had the right mindset tonight and we didn't. They played a good game and you have to give them credit."

Sacco didn't have Kevin Porter, who is in the midst of a four-game suspension for kneeing Vancouver's David Booth in a 6-0 loss last Tuesday. Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson (head) and center Paul Stastny (upper body) missed the game. Wilson is questionable for tonight, Stastny is expected to be activated from injured reserve and Chuck Kobasew (head) will miss tonight's game.

The Avalanche have won three in a row at home and are 7-9-0 in the Rockies this season. They are currently last in the Northwest Division.

San Jose and Colorado are playing the second of four meetings this season, while the Sharks took the first matchup by a 4-1 score at the Pepsi Center on Nov. 20. Patrick Marleau recorded the fourth hat trick of his career and Thomas Greiss made 36 saves in that one for San Jose, which has won three straight and 10 of the last 13 encounters with the Avs.