NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 24th (All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (37-26-12) at San Jose Sharks (37-27-10), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Both San Jose and Phoenix still have a shot at winning the Pacific Division. One team's chase of that crown will take a hit tonight when the Coyotes visit the Sharks with an eye on returning to first place.
The Coyotes picked up a victory last time out to match the first-place Kings with 86 points, but Los Angeles owns the current tiebreaker because it has played one less game. Phoenix has seven games left on its schedule, while Los Angeles is also in action tonight against visiting Boston.
The Sharks are also lurking with 84 points, putting them 10th overall in the Western Conference. That is one back of both Colorado and Dallas and those teams are also in action this evening.
Coming off a shootout loss to Dallas on Tuesday, Phoenix picked up a much- needed 3-2 win over Colorado two nights later. Raffi Torres had a goal and an assist -- giving him five goals in his past eight games -- while Daymond Langkow and Kyle Chipchura also scored.
Mike Smith made 39 saves and allowed two goals in the third to make things interesting for the Coyotes, who moved to 4-1-3 in their past eight contests.
"We need to grab all the points we can get and this was a big one tonight," said Torres. "Didn't want to give up those two in the third, but we got out of here with the win and that's all that counts."
Smith notched the 100th victory of his career, while Ray Whitney had an assist to give him 70 points on the season. The 39-year-old has nine points over a six-game point streak and is just four shy of reaching 1,000 points in his career.
The Coyotes were without captain Shane Doan, who served the first of a three- game suspension for an elbowing penalty that occurred in the shootout loss to the Stars. That ban continues tonight against a Sharks club that snapped a two-game slide with Thursday's 2-1 win over the Bruins.
Antti Niemi made 16 saves, while Daniel Winnik and Joe Pavelski added goals. Winnik -- a former Coyote -- notched his first tally in 13 games since joining San Jose in a trade with Colorado.
"There was lots of energy in the building tonight," said Pavelski. "That's probably our most complete game in a long, long time."
San Jose picked up a win in the opener of a three-game homestand and had lost eight of 11 before besting Boston.
The Coyotes have won three straight versus the Sharks -- two by shutout -- since losing their first encounter this season with their division rivals. Phoenix also snapped a six-game slide in San Jose with a 3-0 win on Nov. 12 behind a 31-save shutout by Smith.
03/24 11:04:38 ET