Avs aim for third straight win in home test vs. Sharks

( - The Colorado Avalanche will try to post their first three-game winning streak since late November when they host the San Jose Sharks in Saturday's afternoon battle at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche began the season with a 14-2-0 record, but have cooled off considerably since, going 11-9-4 over the last 24 games. However, with recent victories over Columbus and Philadelphia, the Avs have posted consecutive wins for the first time since Nov. 29-30. Another victory on Saturday would give Colorado its first three-game winning streak since Nov. 19-23.

After beginning a seven-game homestand last Sunday with a loss to Winnipeg, the Avalanche have notched wins over the Blue Jackets and Flyers, earning both wins in regulation.

Colorado used 29 saves from Semyon Varlamov on Thursday to help the Avs edge Philadelphia by a 2-1 score. Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn scored the goals for the Avalanche.

The Avalanche capitalized on a turnover to open the scoring. Erik Johnson led a rush on the counterattack and dished to Matt Duchene. Flyers goaltender Steve Mason turned away Duchene's shot, but kicked a rebound right to McGinn and he buried it at 11:14 of the first period.

"(Johnson) made a great play stepping up, breaking up the play and then skating hard," McGinn said. "(Duchene) drove the middle like we're suppose to, hard, and got the puck on net. I'm just coming in for the loose change."

The win over the Flyers was the fourth victory in the last five home games for Colorado, which boasts a 14-5-2 mark as the host this season. The Avs have taken two straight, three of four and five of their last seven home games against San Jose, but the Sharks have claimed five of six and eight of the past 10 encounters overall.

San Jose won the first of four scheduled meetings against the Avalanche on Dec. 23, posting a 5-4 shootout win in Northern California.

That game had a wild finish, as San Jose led 3-2 with just under two minutes left in regulation before Johnson and Jamie McGinn lit the lamp 12 seconds apart to put the Avalanche on top. However, Joe Pavelski tied the game with 19.6 seconds remaining in regulation to force an extra session, and despite failing on a power-play chance in overtime, the Sharks were able to escape with two points in the shootout.

San Jose has won five of its last six games and last played on Thursday when it routed the visiting Edmonton Oilers by a 5-1 score. Pavelski finished the game with a goal and an assist, while Patrick Marleau, Bracken Kearns, Logan Couture and Brent Burns also added goals for the Sharks.

Antti Niemi stopped 23 shots in the win.

"The role players played some really good roles tonight," Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said.

San Jose, which is 15-1-3 on home ice compared to an 11-8-3 mark as the guest, is kicking off a three-game road trip on Saturday. The Sharks also will visit Chicago and Nashville before returning home.