SAN JOSE -- The Sharks closed their season series with the Avalanche on the final day of the regular season Saturday. But that doesn’t mean they won’t potentially see Colorado again in the not-too-distant future because of how the Western Conference wild-card race has shaped up.
With the Stars' victory over the Wild on Saturday, Dallas grabbed possession of the first wild-card spot, sticking Colorado in the second spot to face off against the Calgary Flames in the first round. With the way the playoff brackets are orchestrated, the winner of the Sharks' series against the Vegas Golden Knights will face off against the winner of the Flames-Avs series.
If the Sharks advance to the conference semifinals, facing either potential opponent would pose its challenges. San Jose split their regular season series with Calgary 2-2-0, tallying two well-earned wins but also suffering two tough losses, and tied the Flames in goals scored 16-16 apiece. The Flames have also proven to be an emotional matchup for the Sharks this season, stemming from a very physical contest on New Year’s Eve that ended with rookie defenseman Radim Simek suffering a concussion from a late-game hit by forward Sam Bennett. If San Jose makes it through what is sure to be a physical series against Vegas, they’ll certainly be more than prepared for facing Calgary next.
On the off-chance the Sharks and Avalanche both advance to the second round, the matchup is a bit harder to predict. San Jose swept the regular season series with Colorado, although none of their games were blowouts. If the Avs are able to catapult themselves past a Flames team that dominated them all regular season, it could make for an interesting second-round series -- although the Sharks, with their experience and deeper lineup, would likely have the upper hand.
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In the event San Jose advances past the second round, they would have home ice advantage in the Western Conference finals after clinching the second-best record in the West with a victory in their regular-season finale. Given that they registered a 25-11-5 record on home ice during the regular season, and SAP Center has proven to be a hard building to play in come playoff time in the past, you'd have to feel good about the Sharks' chances at that point.
First, of course, it’s a matter of getting past the Vegas Golden Knights in Round 1.
One more to go.
The Sharks have reached the conclusion of the regular season, as they'll host the Colorado Avalanche at SAP Center in Game No. 82 Saturday night. They'll get a significant boost in their final game before the playoffs, as Erik Karlsson returns to the lineup after missing the last 17 games with a groin injury.
San Jose (45-27-9) has already locked up the second seed in the Pacific division, but they still have something to play for on Saturday. If they're able to get at least one point, they'll clinch the second-best record in the Western Conference, which would give them home-ice advantage in the conference finals, if they were to make it that far.
[RELATED: Sharks can clinch second in West with one point vs. Avs]
Colorado (38-29-14), meanwhile, will also be headed to the postseason, although their first-round opponent has still yet to be determined. They'll be the second Wild Card team in the West unless they beat San Jose and Dallas loses to Chicago in regulation.
Here's how you can watch Sharks-Avalanche live on NBC Sports California Plus and streaming on the MyTeams by NBC Sports app.
When: 7:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 6 (pregame show starts at 7:00 p.m.)
TV Channel: NBC Sports California Plus (see below for more details)
Live Stream: MyTeams by NBC Sports app
SAN JOSE -- The Sharks close their 2019 regular-season campaign Saturday night with a standoff against the Colorado Avalanche.
San Jose will have Erik Karlsson back in the lineup for the first time since Feb. 26, as the elite defenseman returns from a lower-body injury with the hopes of getting into shape for the upcoming playoffs. Forward Timo Meier will be out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury and is considered day to day, per Sharks coach Peter DeBoer.
The Sharks can clinch second place in the Western Conference if they get one point out of Saturday’s game, which would ensure they have home ice in the conference final if they go on a run in the upcoming playoffs. Colorado, on the other hand, won’t know if it will be the first or second wild-card team in the West until the conclusion of Saturday’s games, with the Dallas Stars' fate also to be determined after they play the Minnesota Wild on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s game marks the third time the Sharks and the Avalanche will play each other this season. Through 95 total games between the franchises, San Jose holds a 44-40-5-6 record.
Sharks projected lines and pairs
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joe Pavelski
Evander Kane – Tomas Hertl – Gustav Nyquist
Marcus Sorensen – Joe Thornton – Kevin Labanc
Micheal Haley – Barclay Goodrow – Melker Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Erik Karlsson
Joakim Ryan – Justin Braun
Martin Jones – projected starter
Avalanche projected lines and pairs
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Alexander Kerfoot
Colin Wilson – Carl Soderberg – JT Compher
Matt Nieto – Derick Brassard – Matt Calvert
Sven Andrighetto – Tyson Jost – Gabriel Bourque
Samuel Girard – Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov – Tyson Barrie
Ian Cole – Patrick Nemeth
Semyon Varlamov – projected starter