NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 12th (All times Eastern)
San Jose Sharks (50-22-9) at Phoenix Coyotes (36-29-15), 9 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Phoenix Coyotes needed some help to make their last two regular season games meaningful.
They didn't get it.
Eliminated from the postseason race, the Coyotes will have to settle for trying to snap a six-game slide on Saturday night as they host the playoff- bound San Jose Sharks.
Phoenix lost control of its playoff chances with a current 0-3-3 winless stretch, getting outscored 18-7 in that span. That allowed the Dallas Stars to overtake the Coyotes in the race for the Western Conference's second wild card berth and the Stars officially clinched that spot with last night's win over the St. Louis Blues.
The Coyotes conclude the regular season on Sunday against the visiting Stars, further pouring salt in the wound.
Phoenix was blanked 2-0 by the Nashville Predators on Thursday, with netminder Thomas Greiss yielding both goals on 23 shots.
Though Greiss put together a solid showing versus the Predators, the Coyotes have struggled with the backup goaltender in net since No. 1 Mike Smith suffered a lower-body injury on March 24.
While the Coyotes will miss the playoffs for a second straight season, the Sharks have already clinched second place in the Pacific Division and know they will face the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round of the postseason.
San Jose is looking to build momentum ahead of that series and bested the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 on Friday night. Marty Havlat broke open a close game by notching his sixth career hat trick, with all three goals coming in the third period.
"Doesn't matter who scores the goals tonight," Havlat said. " It's about how we end up the regular season and getting ready for the real season."
Alex Stalock made 32 saves for San Jose, which reached 50 wins in a season for the fourth time in franchise history by snapping a two-game losing streak.
Dan Boyle and Patrick Marleau also scored and rookie forward Tomas Hertl returned to action for the first time since suffering a knee injury back on Dec. 1. He had logged 15 goals and 25 points in his first 35 games before the injury.
"The knee is OK," Hertl said. "It's [been] a long time. A little bit tired. I think [Saturday] I'll play much better."
San Jose did lose defenseman Scott Hannan to an upper-body injury versus the Avalanche and he did not travel to Phoenix for San Jose's final game of the regular season.
While the Sharks have won four of their last six meetings with the Coyotes, they have lost five of the last seven on the road in the series.
04/12 10:27:59 ET