NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 10th
(All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (50-25-6) at San Jose Sharks (50-20-11), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The only drawback of reaching the playoffs for the first
time in eight years is that Phoenix's Adrian Aucoin won't be able to work his
shootout magic anymore.
Coming off their NHL-leading 14th shootout victory of the season, the Coyotes
get their final playoff tune-up tonight at HP Pavilion against the San Jose
Sharks, who are trying to secure the Western Conference's top seed for a
second season in a row.
The Coyotes have been outstanding in tight games this season. They are 14-5 in
shootouts and 29-6-6 in games decided by one goal. That includes a 3-2 victory
at Los Angeles on Thursday in which Aucoin notched his sixth shootout-winning
Matthew Lombardi and Taylor Pyatt scored 1:24 apart late in the third period
to tie the game and Jason LaBarbera finished with 22 saves in Phoenix's third
straight win overall.
"I haven't had a whole lot of luck here in this building in my career, but it
was nice for the boys to pull it out there at the end," said LaBarbera. "And
with Aucoin coming in there like he always does, being the fourth guy and
finishing it up for us in the shootout, is always good. As a goalie you have
to have that structure and trust level."
The Coyotes, who have already locked up the West's fourth seed, snapped a
four-game road losing streak and are 21-15-4 as the guest this year.
Phoenix is 2-1-2 versus San Jose this year but has lost four of six and eight
of its last 11 trips to HP Pavilion.
The Sharks will try to continue that home success tonight and put itself in
position to clinch the West's top spot. San Jose is even with Chicago with 111
points and ends its regular season tonight. The Blackhawks wrap their regular
season on Sunday versus the Red Wings and own the tie break over the Sharks
with two more victories.
The Sharks are 7-1-1 over their last nine games, notching a 4-2 victory over
Vancouver last time out. San Jose got four different goal scorers, as Joe
Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Manny Malhotra all scored. Evgeni
Nabokov made 30 saves.
The game also got a big chippy in the third, as the contest had 96 total
penalty minutes and 26 penalties, most of which were called between the 6:24
and 9:46 marks of the third period.
"It's sports and that's just the nature of the beast," Thornton said. "Some
games are a little bit smoother than others. Tonight I just got kind of fired
up a little bit, but for whatever reason, I'm not sure."
San Jose has won four in a row at home, where it is 26-6-8 this season.
04/10 11:02:16 ET