The San Jose Sharks have been on the road so long it is hard for them to remember what home looks like -- or where it is.
Still, despite playing their first seven games in other arenas, San Jose is 3-4 and has been competitive in every game before Tuesday night. So it probably wasn't a surprise that the Sharks had a dud of a performance in Denver, losing 7-3 to the Colorado Avalanche.
The Sharks have a chance to get even with the Avalanche when the two teams play again Thursday night in Denver, then it's back home -- sort of. San Jose will play at least its first two home games in Arizona due to COVID-19 restrictions on contact sports in California.
The Sharks can head "home" with a .500 record if they win Thursday, but it will require a big turnaround from Tuesday's game.
"We didn't play a smart enough road game but we're going to learn from it," San Jose coach Bob Boughner said after the loss. "If you can have a good effort on Thursday before going home, wherever home is, if it's Arizona or back in San Jose, we don't know that. If you can get a split in your first eight games after not playing for 10 months, you'll take that."
The Sharks completed a pair of trades Wednesday ahead of the game against the Avalanche. They sent defenseman Trevor Carrick to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Jack Kopacka, then flipped Kopacka and a 2022 seventh-round draft pick to Ottawa for defenseman Christian Jaros.
San Jose also placed defenseman Jake Middleton on waivers. The Sharks did not say if Jaros would join the team or be assigned to the Barracuda of the AHL.
If San Jose wants to earn a split of its two games in Colorado, it will have to slow down an Avalanche offense that has 15 goals in its previous two home games.
"Maybe it's the altitude, I don't know, but let's keep that going," forward Mikko Rantanen said.
The goals aren't merely coming from the top line, either. Rantanen scored the only one from that trio on Tuesday, showing the depth Colorado possesses and a reason why it's a favorite to win the Stanley Cup this season.
The Avalanche's depth was tested somewhat when forward Matt Calvert missed Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury. He is considered day-to-day, and his replacement was Keifer Sherwood, a free-agent signee in the offseason. Sherwood played on the fourth line and had an assist in his debut with the Avalanche.
"Obviously, new kid on the block, so I just got to earn my stripes and try to open some eyes," Sherwood said Tuesday before Colorado's win. "I think just earn respect in the locker room amongst the guys."
Rantanen long ago earned the respect of his teammates and is on a goal-scoring streak that ranks with the best in Avalanche history. Since moving to Colorado in 1995, four other players have scored in six straight games, with Joe Sakic (twice) and Milan Hejduk scoring in seven straight games.
Rantanen tied linemate Nathan MacKinnon and Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg with goals in six straight games, and has a chance to surpass them against San Jose on Thursday night.
"Playing with (Gabriel Landeskog) and Nate is a great pleasure, and I just go out and play and work as hard as I can to do the right things," Rantanen said. "It's been nice to get rewarded. It's been good for now and I just have to keep it going."
--Field Level Media