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Avs continue push for Central title in San Jose
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Avalanche will attempt to stay in the driver's seat in the race for the Central Division crown as they visit the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.
The Avalanche are in the midst of a well-timed nine-game point streak, going 8-0-1 in that span. Thursday's 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, coupled with St. Louis' setback to the Minnesota Wild, moved Colorado into a tie with the Blues for first place in the division.
Though both teams have 111 points, the Avs own the tiebreaker with four more non-shootout victories and the two clubs each have two games left to play. The Blues are set to visit the Dallas Stars on Friday night.
Colorado is also just a point back of the idle Anaheim Ducks for the top seed in the Western Conference. The Avs end their regular season with a road test versus the Ducks on Sunday.
"Our fate is in our hands here," Colorado's John Mitchell said. "We need to have two big games and that will seal it for us."
Semyon Varlamov made 38 saves in last night's win, giving him 41 victories on the season. That broke current head coach Patrick Roy's previous single-season franchise mark set in 2000-01.
Colorado's 52 victories also tied the 2000-01 Stanley Cup-winning club for the most in franchise history.
Paul Stastny scored twice and Mitchell had a goal versus the Canucks.
Colorado is expected to have forward P.A. Parenteau back in the lineup tonight. He has not played since March 10 because of a knee injury.
The Avs are 2-0-1 versus the Sharks this season, taking two victories at home following a 5-4 shootout loss in San Jose back on Dec. 23. That setback was Colorado's 11th in a row in San Jose, however.
Colorado has not won on the road in this series since Feb. 6, 2008 and tonight visits a Sharks club that has lost two straight and six of its last nine games.
San Jose was last in action on Wednesday when it lost a 5-2 decision to Anaheim. That gave the Ducks the Pacific Division title and locked the Sharks into a first-round meeting with the third-place Los Angeles Kings.
Jason Demers and Logan Couture provided offense for the Sharks, who will have home-ice advantage in that set. Antti Niemi took the loss, allowing three goals on 19 shots in almost 30 minutes of action. Alex Stalock finished with nine saves.
"We played a heck of a game," San Jose's Joe Thornton said. "We were in their end for the majority of the night. A couple of soft goals, we lose the game. That's all."
The Sharks, who conclude their regular season on Saturday at Phoenix, may have forward Tomas Hertl back in action by the time the postseason begins. The rookie has not played since suffering a knee injury back on Dec. 19.
04/11 10:59:43 ET