NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, February 4th
(All times Eastern)
San Jose Sharks (29-14-6) at Phoenix Coyotes (22-21-8), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The San Jose Sharks aim to push their win streak to four
straight games this evening as they begin a tough stretch of road games with a
matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Sharks halted a three-game slide with a 1-0 win at Calgary in their last
game before the All-Star break. They then came out of the hiatus with a 6-0
win over Columbus and knocked off the visiting Stars 5-2 on Thursday.
With starter Antti Niemi out with an ankle injury, backup Thomas Greiss made
19 saves and helped push San Jose's scoreless streak by an opponent to a club-
record 190 minutes and 51 seconds before yielding a goal with 7:19 left in the
Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton ended with a goal and an assist,
while Ryane Clowe scored in his first game back since Jan. 15 because of
facial fractures. Michal Handzus also scored in San Jose's fifth straight win
"For whatever reason we play them real well," Thornton said of the Stars.
"They bring out the best in us."
Niemi could return to action tonight after practicing on Friday and the Sharks
did reassign netminder Tyson Sexsmith back to the minors.
San Jose is 10-3-2 since Jan. 2 and four points up on Los Angeles for the top
spot in the Pacific Division. It will play two straight at home following
tonight's test in Phoenix before embarking on a nine-game road trip.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, are 1-2-1 on a six-game homestand and were handed a
4-1 defeat by the Ducks on Tuesday on the strength of Andrew Cogliano's
natural hat trick in the second period.
Ray Whitney scored and Mike Smith was tagged for three goals on 18 shots
before being yanked in the second period for the Coyotes. Jason LaBarbera
stopped all 11 shots he saw in relief as Phoenix lost for the fourth time in
five games and for the 13th time in 17 contests.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was frustrated by his team's seeming inability to
carry over its good play into the second period.
"It was an interesting game," he said. "We came out well in the first period,
jumping. But in the second period our execution was so poor we got locked in
our own end and that led to some long shifts and they got momentum."
Phoenix, which is five points back of a playoff spot, has lost 10 of its past
12 versus the Sharks, with the clubs splitting a pair of meetings so far this
year in San Jose. The Coyotes did come out on top 3-0 in the most recent
encounter on Nov. 12 behind a 31-save shutout by Smith.
The Sharks have won four of their last five in Phoenix.
02/04 10:36:12 ET