NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 23rd (All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (15-10-7) at San Jose Sharks (18-11-5), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The San Jose Sharks will try to post their longest winning streak of the season tonight as they host the struggling Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion.
The Sharks scored a 2-1 victory over the Oilers on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game homestand to record their second three-game winning streak of the season. They have also won four of their last six to get within four points of the first-place Stars in the Pacific Division.
Rookie Logan Couture scored his fourth goal in three games, while Dan Boyle also scored and Antero Niittymaki made 26 saves. Couture has 10 tallies in his last 11 games and leads all freshman skaters in goals (18) and points (25).
"We talked about putting a string of wins together," Boyle said. "We really want to win this next one."
That next one comes against a Coyotes team that the Sharks have beaten in four straight and seven of the last 11 meetings. San Jose has also won five of seven and nine of its last 12 at home over its Pacific Division rival.
Niittymaki has faced Phoenix just once in his career, allowing two goals on 28 shots faced in a loss while with Tampa Bay on March 16. Fellow netminder Antti Niemi is 1-0-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average in his two starts versus the Coyotes.
Phoenix has lost three of four (1-2-1) on its six-game road trip and sits last in the division with 37 points after making its first playoff appearance since 2002 a season ago.
The Coyotes were routed by the Penguins, 6-1, on Monday and the setback left head coach Dave Tippett not very pleased with his club.
"This is unacceptable for our group," Tippett said. "We'll address some of the issues that we have. That's not who we are right there, and that's not who we're going to be, and we'll do whatever we can to fix it."
Wojtek Wolski scored the lone goal, his sixth of the season and second in as many games, while Jason LaBarbera was pulled after stopping just 17-of-22 shots faced. Matt Climie made 15 saves in relief.
With No. 1 netminder Ilya Bryzgalov out with an upper-body injury, LaBarbera is expected to get his fourth straight start tonight and is 3-6-1 with a 2.25 GAA lifetime versus the Sharks.
Forward Taylor Pyatt suffered an upper-body injury during a fight in Monday's game and was placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Mikkel Boedker was recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League to take his place on the roster.
12/23 11:32:40 ET