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Coyotes, Sharks Try to Build on Season-Opening Wins

Saturday, 10.05.2013 / 10:51 AM
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Coyotes, Sharks Try to Build on Season-Opening Wins
Phoenix Coyotes vs. San Jose Sharks

COYOTES (1-0-0) at SHARKS (1-0-0)

Season series: The Coyotes and San Jose Sharks met five times last season with the Sharks owning a 3-2 edge. The teams are holdovers in the reconfigured Pacific Division.

Big story: It's a new era in Arizona and citizens of the desert are fired up about the new ownership group that's pumped life into the franchise. A sellout crowd of 17,125 helped spark the Coyotes to a 4-1 season-opening win over the New York Rangers on Thursday with the enthusiasm carrying over onto the ice.

"It was real exciting for us to see how excited those owners were on the ice," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "When they walked back in front of the bench, they looked like they were living their dream, just like we're living our dream with the jobs we have."

While the Coyotes ride the wave of all that's new, the Sharks enter another season ripe with the usual expectations. Many have pegged San Jose as Stanley Cup favorites and the team started 2013-14 off with an impressive 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Tonight's game begins a five-game road trip for Phoenix, although the Coyotes will return to Arizona after the game for a day off on Sunday before heading east for four games on Monday. Phoenix won't host another game until Ottawa visits Glendale on Oct. 15. Phoenix was 7-10-7 on the road last season.

"I think this is a good challenge for our team to see where we are," Head Coach Dave Tippett said about the early-season road trip. "We have to get out there and play a hard, disciplined road game (vs. the Sharks), and we'll have lots of (other) opportunities to do that over the next week to 10 days. Our offensive production on the road (last year) wasn't very good and that's something that's going to have to get cleaned up if we're going to be a better road team."

Phoenix was sparked in the season opener by the efforts of forward Radim Vrbata (natural hat trick) and goalie Mike Smith (23 saves). The latter took a big first step in validating a six-year contract extension handed to him this summer and gave the Coyotes reasons for optimism in the very early going.

"The emotions and everything that you felt in the building, it brought back memories of the conference finals (in 2011-12) with how electric this building was," Smith said. "Hopefully it will be like that for the remainder of the season, but what a way to start."

Goaltender Mike Smith owns a 7-3-1 career record vs. San Jose with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage.

Center Mike Ribeiro, who had a quiet debut with the Coyotes on Thursday, has notched 34 points in 45 career games against San Jose.

Backup goalie Thomas Greiss played 44 games for the Sharks before signing with the Coyotes as an unrestricted free agent over the summer.

Sharks: The Sharks are 16-2-3 in their last 21 home games against the Coyotes.

Despite going 0-for-8 on the power play against the Canucks in the opener, the Sharks scored all of their goals playing 5-on-5, a promising sign for a team that ranked 28th in the League last season in even-strength scoring.

"We're going to be fine on the power play," captain Joe Thornton said. "I'm not concerned about that at all and I don't think anybody is. It just was nice to get four goals 5-on-5 for a change and let our 5-on-5 game win us the game."

Who's hot: Vrbata's natural hat trick made him the first NHL player to score three goals in a season finale and in the opener of the following season since Luc Robitaille did it for the Los Angeles Kings in 1988. Vrbata also became the first Coyotes player to open a season with a hat trick and the first to do so on opening night against the Rangers. The Coyotes are 73-17-9 in the 99 games in which Vrbata has scored at least one goal.

The Sharks earned their first win thanks to balanced scoring, but it was 19-year-old rookie Tomas Hertl's impressive NHL debut that drew the most attention. Hertl had an assist, two shots on goal (three other attempts were blocked) and two hits in 16:14 of ice time.

"They said he was big, they said he was fast, that he had a good shot," Thornton said of Hertl. "But until you see it yourself, you don't know."

Injury report: Defenseman Rostislav Klesla (concussion) was on the ice for the Coyotes on Friday after he was cleared for contact the day before. Forward Paul Bissonnette is serving the second of his three-game suspension. … The Sharks are missing forwards Adam Burish (lower body), Raffi Torres (knee surgery) and Martin Havlat (pelvic surgery), but defenseman Brad Stuart (lower body) could see action soon.

2013-2014 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 12 '14 SJS 3 at PHX 2 L. Couture
Dec 27 '13 SJS 4 at PHX 3 - SO P. Marleau
Nov 02 '13 PHX 3 at SJS 2 - SO A. Vermette
Oct 05 '13 PHX 1 at SJS 4 T. Hertl
R. Vrbata2303+0011
O. Ekman-Larsson2112+2200
M. Hanzal2022+1500
K. Chipchura2101+1200
Z. Michalek2011+2200
D. Morris2011+1000
A. Vermette2011+1000
R. Klinkhammer2011+1000
K. Yandle2011+0200
D. Moss2000+2000
M. Boedker2000+1000
L. Korpikoski2000+0000
D. Schlemko2000+0200
C. Brown2000+01700
S. Doan2000-1000
M. Ribeiro2000-1000
D. Rundblad2000-1200
L. Lessio2000-1200
M. Smith21-1-04742.02.946
T. Hertl2213+2011
L. Couture2123+3000
M. Vlasic2033+2000
P. Marleau2202+2010
B. Burns2112+2400
J. Pavelski2022+2000
J. Braun2101+2201
T. Wingels2101+1000
J. Thornton2011+2000
A. Desjardins2011+0200
M. Irwin2011+0000
S. Hannan2000+3000
T. Kennedy2000+3000
J. Demers2000+3000
D. Boyle2000+0000
M. Nieto2000+0200
J. Sheppard2000-1200
M. Pelech1000+0200
J. McCarthy1000-1000
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