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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 22nd (All times eastern)

San Jose Sharks (15-13-4) at Phoenix Coyotes (16-16-2), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The San Jose Sharks try to remain hot this evening, as they travel to Glendale Arena to face the slumping Phoenix Coyotes.

The Sharks have won seven of their last eight games with the latest victory coming Tuesday in a 4-2 home win versus the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Jonathan Cheechoo recorded his first career hat trick, including a goal on a short-handed penalty shot, to lead San Jose to the win at the Shark Tank. Cheechoo's hat trick was the first for the Sharks since Alyn McCauley notched three goals against Florida on November 1, 2003.

Cheechoo also scored on the power play and at even strength for the Sharks, who bounced back from a loss in the opener of the home-and-home series. That setback was San Jose's first since the acquisition of former Boston captain Joe Thornton on November 30.

Thornton posted an assist to extend his point streak to 14 games. It is the longest current scoring run in the NHL.

Scott Parker also scored and Evgeni Nabokov made 33 saves in the win.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, dropped their fourth straight game on Tuesday night, as they lost 5-4 versus St. Louis. Jason Bacashihua made 33 saves and won his first career game to lead the Blues.

Mike Comrie scored two goals for the Coyotes, who will still be without head coach Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky has taken his leave to be with his family following the death of his mother Phyllis, who died Monday night after a battle with lung cancer. Associate coach Rick Tocchet will continue to lead the Coyotes in Gretzky's absence.

Curtis Joseph allowed five goals on just 13 shots and was replaced midway through the third period by Brian Boucher.

The Coyotes won the first encounter of the season with the Sharks, posting a 4-3 shootout win in San Jose. The Sharks have still won four of the last six meetings.

San Jose has won three straight and five of seven at Phoenix.

12/22 10:35:05 ET

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