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Wednesday, December 28th (All times eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (18-17-2) at San Jose Sharks (15-15-5), 10:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Coyotes will welcome head coach Wayne Gretzky back to the bench tonight, as they visit the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion.

Gretzky missed the last five games after taking a leave of absence to attend to family affairs relating to the death of his mother. He left the club on December 17 to be with his ailing mother, Phyllis, who died two days later in Ontario following a battle with lung cancer.

Rick Tocchet was the interim head coach while Gretzky was gone and the Coyotes went 2-3 during the stretch.

The Coyotes are coming off a loss Monday night at Colorado. Joe Sakic had two goals and an assist to lead the Avalanche to the 7-4 victory at the Pepsi Center.

Shane Doan had two goals and Geoff Sanderson and Zbynek Michalek scored for the Coyotes, who had a modest two-game winning streak stopped.

Curtis Joseph was pulled towards the end of the first period after allowing three goals on four shots. Brian Boucher relieved him and made 22 saves.

The Coyotes led 3-0 at one point in the game, but Colorado scored four unanswered goals to gain control of the contest.

Tonight wraps up a three-game road trip for the Coyotes, who are 8-10-1 as the visiting team this season.

San Jose, meanwhile, will try to get back on track tonight.

The Sharks were flying high with a season-high six-game winning streak since acquiring centerman Joe Thornton from Boston late last month. Since then, however, San Jose has dropped four out of five, including losses in three consecutive outings.

The latest setback came Monday in Los Angeles. Sean Avery netted the game-winning goal early in the third period to lead the Kings to a 4-3 victory at Staples Center.

Jonathan Cheechoo netted a pair of goals and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 26 shots for San Jose.

Milan Michalek added a goal for the Sharks, who rallied from a 4-1 deficit with two goals near the midway point of the third period. However, San Jose couldn't manage to register the equalizing goal.

Thornton posted an assist in the loss. It was his first point in three games since having a 10-game point streak snapped.

Phoenix has won both meetings with the Sharks this season.

12/28 10:34:27 ET


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