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Season series: The San Jose Sharks have won three of the first four games against the Phoenix Coyotes this season, including a 4-0 victory nine days ago at Jobing.com Arena.
Big story: While the idle Coyotes were quietly eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday, the Sharks headed back to the playoffs after rallying in the third period to beat the Dallas Stars 3-2. But the Sharks need a victory to give themselves a chance to finish fourth in the Western Conference -- they're even in points with the Los Angeles Kings and visit L.A. on Saturday in the season finale for both teams.
|Photo by Norm Hall.|
Coyotes: With three games remaining and five points between them and eighth place, the Coyotes are left to play out the season knowing that none of the remaining mathematical scenarios will allow them to qualify for the playoffs.
"We came up short this year," Head Coach Dave Tippett said after Wednesday's morning skate. "It's awful disappointing... We'll finish these three games very strong and re-evaluate in the summer."
Note: CLICK HERE TO WATCH TIPPETT'S REMARKS AFTER WEDNESDAY'S MORNING SKATE
Defenseman Keith Yandle said being eliminated from post-season play for the first time since Tippett took over stings.
"Every year, in the beginning of the year, we expect to be in the playoffs," Yandle said. "We obviously know it’s not just given to you, a playoff spot, but we expected to be there. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Mike Smith will start in goal for the Coyotes, who will finish the season by playing three games in four nights.
Sharks: The late comeback against Dallas assured the Sharks of their ninth consecutive trip to the postseason, the longest streak of any team except Detroit (21 years). Unlike most of the first eight, this one was a struggle -- the Sharks appeared to be restructuring for next season with some pre-deadline deals, but added speed and feistiness at the deadline
The Sharks trailed for nearly 35 minutes, but goals 30-seconds apart by Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture late in the third period turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal win.
"We played solid right from the get go. I don't know how many posts we had, or how many great saves [Stars goalie Kari] Lehtonen made, we just kept going and kept going and kept pushing," captain Joe Thornton said. "And eventually you score. Back-to-back shifts, just a huge [two] points, I couldn't be happier."
Who's hot: Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson leads the team with six multi-point games; Phoenix is 4-1-1 in those games.... Couture had the game-winning goal for the Sharks against Dallas and has six points in his past three games. Pavelski had the tying goal against the Stars and has scored in each of his past three games.
Injury report: Defenseman Derek Morris (lower-body) and forward Rob Klinkhammer (upper-body) will not play tonight for Phoenix. ... San Jose is without defenseman Jason Demers (lower body), who didn't play Tuesday and is likely to sit Wednesday.