Defending their title is becoming harder for the Colorado Avalanche. Three straight losses, the last one in overtime, have left them fourth in the Central Division and sitting in the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Colorado does have time to improve its position, and it can stop its current slide when it opposes the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night in Denver.
This is not the same San Jose team that reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and was in the Western Conference finals in 2019. The Sharks are last in the Pacific Division, have lost eight of their past 10 (2-7-1) and are in line for a high draft pick in June.
San Jose snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 overtime win at Winnipeg on Monday, and in process helping Colorado, which is one point behind the Jets in the Central standings.
The Sharks may not have former Avalanche defenseman Jacob MacDonald available on Tuesday. He left the Monday win due to an undisclosed injury after logging 1:55 of ice time.
Things have gotten frustrating for the Sharks, and that aggravation was on full display when coach David Quinn was ejected from the team's Saturday loss to the Washington Capitals for abuse of an official.
"I'm embarrassed," Quinn said. "You shouldn't act like that as a coach and I want to apologize to our team. It's not how I certainly want to act and it's an emotional game. These refs work hard, they do a good job and it's something that should never happen. So I'm embarrassed by that."
Quinn was in a better mood after San Jose's Tomas Hertl scored with 11 seconds left to tie the game against the Jets, and the Sharks' Logan Couture netted the winner at 1:21 of overtime.
"The third period was better than the first two," Quinn said. "That being said, we got fortunate with some lucky bounces there when it looked like they were going to score a goal, but we've had plenty of nights where it didn't go our way. Tonight, we had it go our way."
The Sharks will play the second night of a back-to-back set on Tuesday, something the Avalanche are used to doing. Colorado just completed its fourth back-to-back in three weeks with a 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Seattle Kraken on Sunday.
The Avalanche lost the lead in the final minutes of regulation after getting blown out 7-3 in Dallas on Saturday afternoon.
Colorado is still in a decent position in the division thanks to multiple games in hand on its rivals, but it will be attempting to prevent mishaps like Sunday's from becoming commonplace.
Mikko Rantanen carried the team in December when Nathan MacKinnon, among others, was out, but Rantanen took an ill-advised unsportsmanlike penalty at the end of the second period that gave Seattle a five-on-three.
The Kraken didn't score on that chance, but Rantanen had a bad change on the overtime goal.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said he talked to Rantanen about the penalty between periods but kept him out on the ice in the third.
"He can't do it. Can't do it. He knows it," Bednar said. "My options are sit him the rest of the period or talk to him and turn him loose and hopefully he can bounce back. I didn't think Mikko had a good game prior to that, so frustration probably, some of it brought on by his own game."
--Field Level Media