By Dave Vest
GLENDALE -- The Coyotes will continue a season-long six-game homestand tonight with a match against the San Jose Sharks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall, who missed the past three games because of an upper-body injury, will return to the lineup. Upshall leads the Coyotes with 14 goals.
"I'm looking forward to getting back and jumping into what's going to be a big game for us," Upshall said. "...When you play a good team like San Jose and someone that's ahead of you in the standings, you've really got to bring your 'A' game and step up and have key players make contributions."
Phoenix (26-15-5) has earned six of a possible eight points vs. San Jose this season. After tonight's game, the teams won't play again until April 10 - the regular-season finale for both clubs.
"They're a big strong team and if you're not willing to compete in the hard areas of the game you're going to get beat," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "I think we've done a good job against them."
Coyotes backup goalie Jason LaBarbera will make his first start since he beat the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout on Dec. 29. LaBarbera is 2-2-0 vs. San Jose over his career with a 3.04 goals-against average.
San Jose (29-10-7) played Monday night at Los Angeles and beat the Kings 2-1. The Sharks are 4-1-2 in the second game of back-to-back games this season.
Since beating the Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout on New Year's Eve, the Sharks have won three of five games. They enter the game eight points ahead of the second-place Coyotes in the Pacific Division standings.
Sharks forward Patrick Marleau co-leads the NHL with 29 goals, and center Joe Thornton ranks second in the league with 59 points.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here to watch an interview with Upshall recorded after Monday's practice
Coyotes center Matthew Lombardi has produced a goal and four assists in the past five games and is tied for the team lead with 28 points.
Sharks defenseman/alternate captain Dan Boyle has notched four points in his past three games, including a goal and an assist vs. LA on Monday night.
The Coyotes will play minus defenseman Ed Jovanovski. The NHL on Monday suspended Jovanovski for two games for an elbow he delivered on New York Islanders rookie John Tavares in Saturday's game.
Shootout anyone? The Coyotes and Sharks have played four games this season. Three of those games were decided by shootouts. Not coincidentally, the Coyotes ended Monday's practice with a shootout contest. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin was the winner.
The Sharks have scored 149 goals in 46 games this season. Only five of those goals have come in four games vs. the Coyotes.
"It's a work in progress. We're trying to limit (scoring) opportunities. Hopefully we can do that tonight."