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San Jose
Sharks
43-29-10
Phoenix
Coyotes
42-27-13

35 SOG
24 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
SJS
PHX
game preview

Sharks-Coyotes Preview

Friday, 02.03.2012 / 8:22 AM

The Skinny
 
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By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – After three consecutive days of practice, the Coyotes will play the first of three games in four nights tonight when they host the San Jose Sharks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).

Phoenix (22-21-8) last played on Tuesday when it dropped a 4-1 decision to Anaheim on home ice. Three days of intense workouts followed.

“I think it's important,” Coyotes goalie Mike Smith said. “We haven't had a lot of time to practice the last couple months. When you play a lot, sometimes you start doing things that you wouldn't normally do if you were practicing a lot, so it was nice to get on the ice, get a few days of practice in, work on some things, get back to the fundamentals of the game and be ready to go.”

Smith, whom Head Coach Dave Tippett pulled after giving up three goals on 18 shots in Tuesday’s loss, will be back in goal for the Coyotes. Smith stopped all 31 shots he faced the last time these teams played on Nov. 12 at HP Pavilion. Phoenix won that game, 3-0, but has won just two of the last eight games between these teams.

Center Daymond Langkow, who left Tuesday’s game after getting hit in the face by a puck, is “available for selection” for tonight’s game, according to Tippett. So is defenseman Derek Morris, who has been nursing a lower-body injury.

The Coyotes will need a healthy roster if they’re going to make a run at catching first-place San Jose in the race for the Pacific Division title; the Sharks lead the Coyotes by 12 points with two months left in the regular season.

Tippett said his players must be all in tonight or they have no chance to win.

“There can be nothing left in the bag,” Tippett said. “I remember looking around at guys after the win in San Jose (on Nov. 12). You had guys put a lot of effort into that game to get that result.”

► Click here to listen to more comments by Tippett about tonight's game.

Smith agreed and took it one step further.

“We have to compete hard every night,” Smith said. “We have to play every game like it’s a playoff game. It’s going to be a tough road, but I think we have the guys in here who can do it.”

Photo by Getty Images.
San Jose (29-14-6) will enter the game riding a three-game winning streak.

Sharks No. 1 goaltender Antti Niemi, who missed Thursday’s game at Dallas because of a minor injury, is expected to be in the lineup tonight.

The Sharks have been clicking on the power play lately with five goals in their past 13 chances.

Left wing Ryane Clowe provided the spark in a 5-2 win at Dallas on Thursday by scoring a goal in his first game back after missing the previous six games with a facial fracture.

Center Joe Pavelski has had success playing the Coyotes lately with six goals in his last six games versus Phoenix.
Who's Hot
 
Whitney
Coyotes left wing Ray Whitney has notched two goals and two assists in the last three games, and leads the team with 43 points.
Couture
Sharks center Logan Couture has notched three goals and five assists in the past five games, and ranks second on the team with 40 points.
Did You Know?
 
  • Coyotes left wing Ray Whitney was drafted by the San Jose Sharks with the 23rd overall pick of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.

  • Tonight's game will be the 100th NHL game for Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is just 20 years old.

  • Tonight's game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona Plus and XTRA Sports 910 AM at 6 p.m. Click here to see the Fox Sports Arizona Plus channel finder. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.
Injuries
 

  Jason Demers
  Martin Havlat
  Tommy Wingels
  David Schlemko

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 29 '12SJS 0 at PHX 2R. Vrbata
Mar 24 '12PHX 3 at SJS 4 - SOM. Handzus
Mar 10 '12SJS 0 at PHX 3M. Boedker
Feb 04 '12SJS 3 at PHX 5L. Korpikoski
Nov 12 '11PHX 3 at SJS 0R. Vrbata
Oct 08 '11PHX 3 at SJS 6A. Desjardins
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Thornton50113344+141812
L. Couture50221941+101053
P. Marleau50202141+121657
J. Pavelski50191938+142361
R. Clowe44102030+15641
D. Boyle5042529+135321
B. Burns4971421+112241
J. McGinn5011920+101720
M. Handzus4951520+01210
M. Vlasic5031417+171601
M. Havlat2621315+81610
T. Mitchell465712+31400
A. Desjardins473912+63102
J. Demers352911-72011
B. Winchester50639-27100
B. Ferriero23617+2403
J. Braun36156+11500
A. Murray39134+3400
D. Murray40044+72500
J. Vandermeer13033+22600
T. Wingels9112-1400
C. White31022+21500
F. McLaren7000+0900
J. McCarthy6000-21000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
A. Niemi3922-11-58810792.29.918
T. Greiss127-4-1243221.98.925
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
R. Whitney52162945+152450
R. Vrbata52241842+121646
S. Doan52151732-92634
K. Yandle5262329-42802
L. Korpikoski52131326+71203
M. Hanzal3861622+53221
O. Ekman-Larsson5271421-11811
D. Langkow4371320-61411
B. Gordon4551318+111001
M. Boedker527916-2601
R. Torres498614+03500
T. Pyatt526713-61200
K. Chipchura4011112+32900
D. Schlemko4111011+71000
R. Klesla45279+71900
D. Morris44088-122600
C. O'Reilly27246-7410
D. Rundblad26156-10600
M. Rozsival24066+3800
A. Aucoin42235+52610
G. Brule9314+0210
P. O'Sullivan23224-4200
C. Summers10033+0000
M. Pouliot9022-3200
P. Bissonnette16101-11601
P. Nokelainen5011-1000
A. Miele7000-3600
K. Turris6000-2400
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
M. Smith4019-14-79612052.50.920
J. LaBarbera153-7-1353862.73.909
C. McElhinney21-0-02361.67.944
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