By NHL.com | Associated Press
SAN JOSE --
The playoff-bound Coyotes will play their final game of the regular season tonight when they square off against the San Jose Sharks in the second game of a home-and-home series at the HP Pavilion. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
|Photo by Getty Images.
San Jose had won the first four games against Phoenix this season by a combined score of 17-7 before coming into Glendale on Friday night and losing 4-3.
Both teams have already clinched a postseason berth, so this game is about gaining favorable seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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The Coyotes (43-25-13) would clinch the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference...
• if they defeat the San Jose Sharks in regulation or overtime AND the Nashville Predators lose to the St. Louis Blues in regulation, overtime or shootout or defeat the Blues in a shootout
• if they defeat the San Jose Sharks in a shootout AND the Nashville Predators lose to the St. Louis Blues in regulation, overtime or shootout
• if they get one point against the San Jose Sharks AND the Nashville Predators lose to the St. Louis Blues in regulation.
The Nashville at St. Louis game is today at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).
Friday night was a special night for the Coyotes. Not only did the win over the Sharks allow Phoenix to clinch a playoff spot for the second consecutive season, but goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
also became the franchise leader in wins.
|Photo by Getty Images.
Against the Sharks on Friday, Shane Doan
and Radim Vrbata
both registered a goal and an assist while Eric Belanger
collected two helpers. Phoenix led 4-1 almost halfway through the third period, but two goals from the Sharks closed the gap before Bryzgalov shut the door for his 130th victory with the Coyotes.
Bryzgalov is expected to start in goal tonight. He has a 2.09 goals-against average in seven starts at San Jose, but just a 1-4-2 record to show for it.
The Sharks (47-25-9) had already clinched the Pacific Division coming into the weekend series with Phoenix, so their only remaining concern was retaining the No. 2 seed in the conference. Despite the loss in Glendale, San Jose was able to retain its hold on the spot thanks to Detroit's 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks on Friday.
In San Jose's late comeback attempt against the Coyotes, Joe Thornton's goal gave him 1,000 points for his career, making the six-time All Star the 78th player in NHL history to reach the exalted plateau.
► EDITOR'S NOTE:
This preview was compiled by Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com.