Sharks aim to keep pace in Pacific vs. playoff-hopeful Avs

( - The playoff-bound San Jose Sharks will try to aid their Pacific Division title chances when they visit the Colorado Avalanche for Saturday's matinee battle at Pepsi Center.

The Sharks secured a postseason berth with the point gained in Monday's shootout loss in Calgary, but are still locked in close battle with Anaheim for the division crown. The Ducks are a point back of San Jose for the division lead and hold two games in hand over the Sharks, who have seven games remaining in the regular season.

Anaheim is in action later on Saturday when it visits the Vancouver Canucks.

Colorado, meanwhile, is close to clinching its first playoff berth since 2010. The Avs own a 17-point lead over the Dallas Stars, who sit ninth overall in the Western Conference playoff race with nine games left for both teams. Colorado has 10 more non-shootout wins than Dallas, so a single point in today's game for the Avs would clinch a playoff spot.

The Stars also are in action later on Saturday night as they visit the St. Louis Blues.

The Avalanche sit one point behind the Chicago Blackhawks for second place in the Central Division and have won two straight on the heels of a three-game skid, picking up both recent victories after regulation. The Avs posted a 5-4 shootout win in Nashville on Tuesday before recording Thursday's 3-2 overtime decision against visiting Vancouver.

Tyson Barrie scored the winner 55 seconds into OT to lift the Avalanche to just their third win in seven games. In the extra session, Matt Duchene circled around the left boards to get clear of defenders before firing a pass to the front of the net where Barrie tipped it home for the win.

"Two of their guys went to Duchene and I went to the net," said Barrie of the goal. "He sent me a great pass and I was just glad to get it in. That was a real tough game."

Duchene had a goal and an assist while Gabriel Landeskog also had a goal for the Avalanche. Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 shots in the win.

Colorado is completing a brief two-game homestand on Saturday and is 24-11-3 in Denver this season. After today's game against the Sharks, the Avs will play six of their last eight regular-season away from the Mile High City.

The Avalanche have won three straight and four of the last five home tests against San Jose, but Colorado has not fared well in the series overall. The Sharks have claimed five of seven and 17 of the last 24 encounters in this matchup.

The clubs have split the first two of four encounters in 2013-14 and will complete the season series on April 11 in San Jose.

The Sharks lost for the fourth time in six games when it hosted the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. San Jose led 2-1 after 20 minutes, but Winnipeg scored three of the game's final four goals to claim a 4-3 decision. Tobias Enstrom scored the winner for the Jets with 3:36 left in the third period.

Dan Boyle, Logan Couture and Brent Burns scored for the Sharks, while Antti Niemi turned away 27 shots in a losing effort.

"We can't give away points," Sharks forward Joe Pavelski said. "We've given away a few too many lately. (The Ducks have) the games in hand. If they do their job, they'll be there, but there's still quite a bit of hockey left."

San Jose is on the road for one game before returning to Silicon Valley for three straight at the Shark Tank, beginning with Tuesday's meeting against Edmonton. The Sharks are 21-13-4 on the road this season compared to a 26-6-5 mark in Northern California.