By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will attempt to earn their first victory of March and snap a five-game win-less streak tonight when they host the San Jose Sharks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (33-25-10) will enter the game 0-4-1 this month and in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, three points behind division-leading Dallas, which hosts Anaheim tonight. The Sharks are just one point behind the Coyotes in the standings with two games in hand.
“We’ve talked about these games (vs. San Jose) for a while and how they are going to have huge impacts on the standings,” Tippett said. “The division is very, very tight and we’ve got three games left against them. A week ago when it looked like we were kind of back-and-forth for the division lead Dallas jumped in there and jumped ahead of us. So, both teams will be desperate for points.”
After losing to San Jose on opening night, the Coyotes have beaten the Sharks twice in a row and have outscored them 8-3 in those games.
will start in goal for the Coyotes after watching backup Jason LaBarbera
play 65 minutes in a 3-2 shootout loss to Minnesota on Thursday.
“It’s obvious that I’m in a little bit of a funk right now but I’m going to do everything I can to get back as quick as I can,” said Smith, who is 0-3-0 with a 3.63 goals-against average in his past four starts.
Phoenix likely will play minus center Martin Hanzal
, who suffered an upper-body injury in Thursday’s loss. On the bright side, defenseman Rostislav Klesla
is expected to return to the lineup after missing the past 10 games because of an upper-body injury (see PODCASTS
|Photo by Getty Images.
Like the Coyotes, San Jose (33-24-9) will be seeking its first victory of the month. The Sharks are 0-2-2 since February ended and they are struggling away from home with just one win in their past eight road games (1-5-2).
The Sharks last played on Thursday when they lost to Dallas 4-3 in a shootout. San Jose led that game 3-2 but lost the lead late in the third period and ultimately faltered in the skills competition.
San Jose's usual high-powered offense has struggled lately; the Sharks have netted three goals or fewer in 11 straight games.
Captain Joe Thornton is leading the team in points with 62. His 48 assists rank fourth in the NHL.
Defenseman Dan Boyle plays nearly 26 minutes per game and has taken 209 shots on goal this season to rank second among NHL defensemen in that category. He also ranks seventh among blueliners with 32 assists.
The Coyotes are inviting fans to participate in Game Chat - Live!
starting tonight at 5:30 p.m. at phoenixcoyotes.com. With Game Chat - Live!
fans receive updates throughout the game and can chat with other fans as the game unfolds. Click here
to set a reminder.