NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, March 26th
(All times eastern)
San Jose Sharks (43-23-9) at Phoenix Coyotes (41-24-11), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes are locked in a
tight battle for first place in the Pacific Division and will meet tonight at
Jobing.com Arena for the first of three remaining regular-season encounters.
The Sharks head into tonight's contest in Arizona with a two-point lead
(95-93) over the Coyotes for the top spot in the Pacific. With 75 games
played, San Jose has a game in hand over Phoenix and the clubs will both close
out their regular-season schedules with a home-and-home series on April 8 and
The Coyotes are also fourth in the West standings, but they are just six
points ahead of Anaheim for the conference's eighth and final postseason
San Jose has posted three regulation wins against the Coyotes and has claimed
seven straight games in this series. The Sharks have also notched victories in
their last three trips to the desert.
However, the Coyotes have been playing superb hockey this month and they enter
this evening's big game with an 8-1-1 record. Phoenix won its second straight
game on Thursday, defeating the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets by a 3-0 score.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 28 saves to record his seventh shutout of the season in
the victory, while Michal Rozsival, Mikkel Boedker and Derek Morris lit the
lamp for the Coyotes.
"He is a top notch goalie, and we rely on him heavily," Phoenix head coach
Dave Tippett said of Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov is 0-2 with a 3.56 goals-against average this season against the
Sharks, but he is expected to get the start tonight.
This evening's tilt is the fourth contest on a six-game homestand for Phoenix,
which is 19-12-6 as the host this year.
The Sharks had a four-game winning streak halted in their last trip to the
ice, as they dropped a shootout decision Thursday night in Los Angeles. Dustin
Brown scored twice in regulation and tallied the game-winner in the fifth
round of the shootout, lifting the Kings to the 4-3 win. The victory pulled LA
within five points of the Sharks in the Pacific standings.
Patrick Marleau had two goals and an assist in Thursday's loss, while Joe
Pavelski also scored in defeat. Both players enter tonight riding six-game
point streaks, with Pavelski notching four goals and 10 assists over that span
and Marleau adding six goals and six helpers.
Antti Niemi made 35 saves in his 30th straight start in net for the Sharks. He
is expected to get the call again tonight and is 2-0 with a 2.40 GAA against
the Coyotes this year.
San Jose has lost two of its last three road games and is 22-12-4 as the guest
03/26 11:07:23 ET