The San Jose Sharks' slow start seems like a distant memory thanks to a three-game winning streak. The Sharks will look to extend that run against a Colorado Avalanche team that's been unable to put together any sustained success.
Colorado has alternated wins and losses in its last seven games, and it's been just as inconsistent offensively as it gets set to face the Sharks for the second time this season Wednesday night.
The Sharks knocked off Los Angeles 6-3 on Monday for their fourth victory in five games. After opening 1-2-1, San Jose (9-5-2) may be recapturing the form that allowed it to earn an NHL-best 113 points in 2009-10.
The Sharks, 4-0-1 in their last five, set a team season high for goals in defeating the Western Conference-leading Kings.
Dany Heatley chipped in a goal and an assist, ending a three-game scoreless streak. Heatley has 13 points in 11 career games against Colorado.
Antero Niittymaki made 32 saves and improved to 7-1-2 with a 1.91 goals-against average.
"Of late, the most complete game was tonight's," coach Todd McLellan said. "They've reset the bar, and they've done it themselves. L.A.'s obviously the measuring tool -- not only in our conference, but maybe in the league. It just goes to show if we play the right way and we execute properly, we have the ability to do it. It's a matter of getting it done on a nightly basis."
The Avalanche's performance on a nightly basis has been much more uncertain. Colorado has gone 5-3-0 in its last eight, scoring at least five goals in each of the wins and totaling four in the losses.
The Avalanche will again try to string together two wins for the first time since Oct. 28 and 30 after beating St. Louis 6-3 on Monday. Defenseman John-Michael Liles scored his second and third goals for Colorado (9-7-1).
"I'm just happy to chip in on the score sheet," Liles said. "When the points happen, they happen. It's kind of just trying to jump in, use my legs and help the forwards out."
After St. Louis cut the Avalanche's lead to 3-2, Brandon Yip and David Jones scored in a 17-second span. That proved to be enough for Peter Budaj, who made 27 saves and improved to 6-3-1 on the season.
Colorado will be playing the second game of a three-game homestand Wednesday.
"You want to win home games," Budaj told the team's official website. "The bottom line is that our home record hasn't been great, but we have a homestand right now and we started with a victory yesterday. We have to build on that, because you definitely don't want to be a team that wins one, loses one, wins one, and loses one.
"We have to get on a roll and hopefully it will start this homestand."
Budaj has struggled against the Sharks in his career, going 2-5-1 with a 3.00 GAA.
The Sharks beat the Avalanche 4-2 on Oct. 21 in Denver, with Niittymaki making 29 saves. Pavelski had two goals and Marleau and Heatley each had two assists.
San Jose has dominated Colorado in recent years, going 14-4-2 in the last 20 matchups.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every NHL game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.