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Saturday, April 9th (All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (43-25-13) at San Jose Sharks (47-25-9), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Coyotes clinched their second straight playoff berth with a victory last night over the Sharks and may have gained a bit of confidence should the two clubs cross paths again down the road.
First, Phoenix will attempt to better its playoff position as it visits San Jose tonight at HP Pavilion.
The Coyotes' 4-3 win over the Sharks on Friday was their first against the Pacific Division champs in five meetings this year and snapped their overall eight-game series streak. It didn't come without anxious moments as Phoenix had to stave off a San Jose rally after Shane Doan's team-leading 20th goal of the season gave Phoenix a three-goal lead.
Doan and Radim Vrbata both finished with a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who were coming off back-to-back shootout losses and are 10-2-3 in their past 15 games. Ray Whitney and Andrew Ebbett also scored.
"I said before the season started that every point is valuable and we got down to every point," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett. "That's a big two points we got here tonight and we still have a shot at home-ice for the playoffs."
With 99 points, the Coyotes are tied with the Predators for the fourth spot in the Western Conference with one game to play. Both clubs have 38 non-shootout wins and split their four-game season series, so Nashville owns the tiebreaker with a better goal differential.
Nashville also wraps its regular season tonight with a road game at St. Louis
The Coyotes are also just a point ahead of the Kings and two up on both the Ducks and Blackhawks in the standings. Both Los Angeles and Anaheim are also in action tonight.
Phoenix is making its second straight trip to the playoffs for the first time since 1999-2000.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 24 saves last night to record his 130th victory as a member of the Coyotes franchise, surpassing Bob Essensa for most on the club's all-time list. That's not bad for a goaltender who was claimed off waivers from Anaheim on Nov. 17, 2007.
Phoenix is 4-0-1 in its last five on the road, but has dropped four straight and seven of its last nine at HP Pavilion. The Sharks, meanwhile, have won six straight at home.
Sharks center Joe Thornton reached a milestone in last night's loss, with his third period goal giving him 1,000 career points. He is the 78th player in league history to reach that mark and joins Vincent Damphousse as the only players to do so in a Sharks uniform.
While San Jose has lost two straight following a four-game win streak, Thornton isn't worried about his club heading into the playoffs.
"We feel good and we feel confident," said Thornton. "We have three more periods before the big party starts and we will be ready for it."
Ian White and Dany Heatley also scored goals for San Jose and Antti Niemi made 22 saves in the loss.
The Sharks remained a point up on the Red Wings for the second seed in the Eastern Conference and can clinch the spot with a victory tonight. Detroit doesn't wrap its regular season until tomorrow afternoon at Chicago.
04/09 11:20:24 ET
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