By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will begin a five-game trip tonight when they play the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (7-4-3) last played on Thursday night and dropped a 3-2 overtime loss to Montreal on home ice.
After tonight’s game, the Coyotes will play four road games in a row against teams from the Eastern Conference: Toronto, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Washington.
“Sometimes you go on a tough trip like this, it can really bring a group together,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “… If you have some success, you can really use that as motivation to push your season along.”
The Coyotes will enter the game as the least-penalized team in the NHL at 8.5 penalty minutes per game.
“We know we have to be disciplined,” Tippett said. “We talk all the time about percentages (and) what gives you the best chance to win, and if you're putting teams on the power play over and over, you're lessening those chances. Our team has done a pretty good job of being disciplined, and we need to stay that way.”
Mike Smith will start in goal for the Coyotes. Smith is 5-0-2 with a 2.37 goals-against average in his last seven starts.
Photo by Getty Images.
Center Daymond Langkow, who missed Thursday’s game vs. Montreal because of a death in his family, will not play again tonight.
The Coyotes will be looking to avenge a 6-3 loss to the Sharks at HP Pavilion in the season opener for both teams on Oct. 8, and snap a six-game losing streak at San Jose.
The Sharks (9-4-1) are the hottest team in the NHL having posted an 8-1-1 record in their past 10 games.
A big reason for San Jose’s success is the team’s power play, which boasts a league-best 30.0 percent success rate at home.
San Jose is tied for sixth in the NHL in goals per game (3.0), and leads the League in shots on goal per game (36.0)
Sharks goalie Antti Niemi is 5-1-1 vs. the Coyotes in his career with a 2.12 GAA.
Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata has notched four goals and three assists in his past five games and is second on the team with 12 points.
Sharks right wing Joe Pavelski ranks first on the team and sixth in the NHL with nine goals. He also leads San Jose with 17 points.
The Coyotes are 3-0-1 on the road since losing at San Jose in the season opener on Oct. 8.
Since Dave Tippett took over as head coach on Sept. 24, 2009, the Coyotes own the following records: When scoring first: 73-8-12; When leading after the first period: 44-3-6, When leading after the second period: 72-3-4.
Tonight's game will be broadcast on Money Radio 1510 AM. A link to the radio broadcast will be provided at phoenixcoyotes.com at 8:30 p.m.