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Sharks looking to skate out of rough winter patch and spring into 2014 on a roll

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(SAN JOSE) -- The San Jose Sharks have lost six of their last nine games to skid into third place in the Pacific Division, trailing two teams from Southern California who have each won at least eight of their last ten.

The Sharks have four games left in 2013, including two against the division-leading Anaheim Ducks, so tonight, the boys in teal have a chance to get a head start on making 2014 a memorable year, as San Jose hosts the Colorado Avalanche at the SAP Center tonight at 7:30 p.m.

With only one home loss in regulation this season so far, the Sharks (22-8-6) are good bet to a boost in the standings, even against a team like the Avs (23-10-2). The two teams haven't played each other yet this season, but they will play twice in the next 12 days with San Jose traveling to Denver for a January 4 rematch.

Like the Sharks and their 10-2 start, Colorado got off to a very fast start this year, winning 12 of their first 13 games, but they've faded into third in the Central Division now, trailing both Chicago and St. Louis, after losing six of their last ten contests.

With the halfway point of the season approaching in the first week of January, both San Jose and Colorado want to start moving in the right direction again.

The Sharks are coming off a 3-2 overtime shootout win against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, their fourth shootout win in nine such situations. Meanwhile, Colorado lost a shootout contest, by the same score, in Los Angeles two days ago.

The Avs are 2-2 in shootouts this season.

San Jose will have to play the next month or so, at least, without rookie standout Tomas Hertl: he suffered a knee injury in a loss to Los Angeles on Thursday night, and he will undergo surgery soon.

Only then will the team know how long the NHL's top-scoring rookie will be gone from the ice.

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