SAN JOSE -– There’s a bit of a bug going through the Sharks’ dressing room, after the team spent two weeks on the road and in an airplane together for a seven-game trip that ended on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
That includes goalie Alex Stalock, who coughed his way through a brief interview on Wednesday morning as the Sharks prepare to host Colorado. He’s supposed to be the healthy one, too, as Antti Niemi was still not feeling 100 percent as of Tuesday’s practice.
Still, it will be Stalock making his third straight start in net as the Sharks and Avalanche meet in a battle between two unlikely playoff teams that haven’t quite been mathematically eliminated yet.
Stalock has allowed just four goals-against in his last three starts, including a shutout of Montreal on March 2. Against the Flyers and Penguins over the weekend, he went 1-0-1 in a pair of games that were decided in a shootout, allowing two regulation goals-against in each.
“Good to get back in there, and hope to keep it rolling,” Stalock said.
Todd McLellan said: "He's played very well in those three starts. Good games. Team played well around him, played hard. He's played well."
Stalock is particularly pleased with his puck control lately. Earlier in the season, he was making errors with the disc that were costing the team, and contributing to a save percentage that at one point dipped below .900 (it’s now .905).
“I think the biggest thing is controlling rebounds and not giving second chances,” he said.
San Jose got some help in the standings on Tuesday when the Rangers beat the Jets. The Sharks could pull to within three points of Winnipeg if they beat the Avalanche and Coyotes on Friday, although they would still have to surpass either the Kings or Flames at some point, too.
Their chances remain very remote, considering Marc-Edouard Vlasic remains out indefinitely with a lower body injury, but hurdle isn’t yet officially insurmountable.
“Until we’re mathematically eliminated, [and] even when you are, you play to win,” Tommy Wingels said. “No one plays this game for any other reason. That’s our mindset for this game, and the last game of the season, and the first game of the season.”
Is there scoreboard watching going on?
"Oh yeah,” McLellan said. “We need help, and you put yourself in that situation [when] you haven't had the year that you wanted to have. We're in that situation now. So, we need help and we're cheering for teams, which isn't right, but that's the way it's going right now."
McLellan mentioned that when he sat down at his desk at SAP Center on Wednesday morning, he still had the stats in front of him from the last time the team was here for a game on March 14.
The Sharks lost that one to Chicago, 6-2, but was about to embark on a key road trip in which they would probably need at least 10 or 11 of a possible 14 points. Instead, they posted a middling 3-3-1 mark to put them in the position they’re in now, which isn’t ideal.
“At that point you could think about catching teams maybe without a lot of help,” said the coach. “Now to catch teams you need a ton of help.”
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Despite skating again on Wednesday morning, Mike Brown is still not ready to return from a broken bone in his right leg, according to McLellan. The Sharks’ lines and defense pairs are unchanged from the game in Pittsburgh.