San Jose is proving that its strong start is not a fluke, beating last season's Stanley Cup finalists the past two games. A week ago, perhaps the Colorado Avalanche was in better position to give the Sharks another tough test.
The Sharks, off to their best start in franchise history, look to hand the once-surging Avalanche its third straight loss when the teams meet Sunday night.
San Jose (9-2-0) has won three straight and its 18 points lead the Western Conference. The past two games have been particularly satisfying for the Sharks.
San Jose beat defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit 4-2 on Thursday night, two days after setting a franchise record by holding runner-up Pittsburgh to 11 shots in a 2-1 victory.
"We have the respect around the league as a good team," Sharks winger Ryane Clowe said. "We're showing this year that we're ready to take the next step."
Now, San Jose will face a Colorado team that has had its confidence shaken, losing two straight after a five-game winning streak.
The Avalanche (5-5-0) has been held to two goals during its skid. After games on Oct. 23, they were leading the league with 28 goals.
San Jose, meanwhile, has tightened up on defense after struggling for a stretch. The Sharks have allowed three goals in their last three games after surrendering 18 in their previous four.
Evgeni Nabokov made 25 saves versus the Red Wings. He has allowed two goals in each of his last three games against Colorado, going 2-1-0.
Against Detroit, San Jose's offense also got hot after scoring three goals or less in each of its previous three games.
Jamie McGinn ended a memorable first week with San Jose by scoring his first career goal and adding an assist Thursday.
The 20-year-old winger, the Sharks' second-round pick in 2006, made his NHL debut against the Penguins, playing just over 5 minutes. He got an even bigger opportunity against Detroit, playing on San Jose's fourth line.
"I'm real excited about him," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It's a really exciting time for him. Often when young players get called up they play on emotion the first three or four games. We'll see how he responds as time goes on."
Colorado is in desperate need of a spark on offense. The Avalanche has been held to three goals in regulation during its last two home games after scoring 13 times in its first three contests at the Pepsi Center.
"We're trying to do too much," Colorado center Paul Stastny said. "We're trying to make the extra pass instead of putting the puck on net, go for the rebound and getting the ugly goals. Maybe we've been a little too fancy. When we were winning we got away with so many fancy goals."
Colorado lost 4-2 to Columbus on Thursday night, two days after falling 3-0 at Calgary.
Andrew Raycroft, who finished with 10 saves against the Blue Jackets, gave up four goals on 14 shots before being pulled in favor of Peter Budaj to start the third period. The Avalanche will likely turn back to Budaj, who is 3-4-0 with a 2.86 goals-against average.
Colorado and San Jose split four meetings last season.