In a battle between two teams desperately battling to stay alive in the playoff race, the Colorado Avalanche fell 5-1 to the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Wednesday night.

The Avalanche (35-29-12) have lost four of their last six games and currently sit eight points out of the second wild card position in the Western Conference with five games remaining. They still aren’t mathematically eliminated, but the postseason hasn’t been a realistic thought for at least a couple of games now.

The win pushes the Sharks (38-30-9) to within five points of the payoffs. If they aren’t able to sneak in, it will end a streak of 10 straight playoff appearances for the club.

The loss was Colorado’s 13th consecutive regular season defeat to San Jose.

Backup goaltender Reto Berra got the start and allowed three goals on 28 shots. The 28-year-old has a 2.98 goals-against average on the season.

With a goal in the losing effort, Matt Duchene reached the 20-goal plateau for the fourth time in his career.

The game was scoreless late in the second before Scott Hannan broke the tie by redirecting a Brent Burns’ point shot past Berra. Burns has assists in his last five contests.

Chris Tierney extended the Sharks lead to 2-0 at 8:01 of the closing frame. Berra couldn’t control multiple rebounds and eventually Tierney chipped in the loose puck.

Duchene answered less than a minute later with a snipe from a bad angle along the goal line on the power play. Zach Redmond and John Mitchell picked up the helpers.

The Sharks quickly reestablished their two-goal lead when Logan Couture found Patrick Marleau in the high slot for a well-placed one timer that Berra had little chance to get to.

Couture and John Scott added empty netters to seal the victory.

Sharks goalie Alex Stalock only had to make 19 saves to earn the win.

The Avalanche will continue their California road trip when they visit the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

Nathan is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheRealNatron.

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