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Coyotes Return Home Seeking Win vs. Sharks

Friday, 12.27.2013 / 4:03 PM
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Coyotes Return Home Seeking Win vs. Sharks
San Jose Sharks vs. Phoenix Coyotes

SHARKS (23-8-6) at COYOTES (19-10-7)

Season series: This is the third of four games. The teams have split their first two games, with the Phoenix Coyotes winning 3-2 in a shootout against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center in the most recent game Nov. 2. The teams will not play again until April 12, which marks the final game this season for San Jose.

Big story: The Coyotes return to home ice after a 1-1-2 road trip just in time to mark the 10th anniversary of their first game played at Arena. The team played its first game at the Glendale rink on Dec. 27, 2003 vs. Nashville, a 3-1 loss.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix is 10-3-2 at Arena, where it will play seven of its next eight games. The return to home ice might help the Coyotes rediscover their scoring touch; they have scored 53 goals in 15 home games (3.53 per game) compared to 54 goals in 21 road games (2.57).

A 2-1 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday dropped the Coyotes to 2-2-2 over their past six games. They scored 14 goals in the six games, with six of those coming in a 6-3 win against the New York Islanders on Dec. 12.

Goalie Mike Smith, who has a 41-16-7 record with nine shutouts in 66 career games at Arena, will be back in goal tonight.

After Friday's morning skate, Smith said he is eager to get back to work after the NHL's mandatory three-day break for Christmas.

"i don't like two days off in a row let alone three," Smith said. "It definitely is a challenge. We had a good, crisp skate this morning. It's the same for both teams but it's nice to be at home for this game. It will be a tough test for us."

Smith owns an 8-4-1 record with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage in 14 career games against the Sharks.

"Hopefully we've got lots of energy," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "There's lots to play for; big division games the next three. Jumping back in against San Jose will be a good test for us... We have a chance to keep moving up in the standings if we play well."

The Coyotes will play minus defenseman Rostislav Klesla. Tippett said Klesla is battling illness.
Defenseman David Schlemko skated with Michael Stone on Friday morning and will come off injured reserve to play against the Sharks.

Sharks: San Jose has won four of six games following a slump that saw it drop four straight in early December, but is dealing with the news that rookie forward Tomas Hertl will miss more than a month due to a right-knee injury that will require surgery. Hertl, who leads all rookies with 15 goals and 25 points, sustained the injury on a knee-on-knee collision with Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown last Thursday.

San Jose has won both games it's played without Hertl in shootouts, 3-2 against Dallas on Saturday and 5-4 against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.

Coach Todd McLellan will experiment with different line combinations in Hertl's absence.

"We'll shuffle people around over the next little bit until we find comfortable combinations again," he said before the Colorado game. "We're still not at where we need to be and where we were, so despite beating Dallas and coming from behind, we still have work to do and we're trying to find the right way of getting it done."

Who's hot: Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette scored a hat trick, including the game-winner in overtime, against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. He has 12 goals. Smith is 1-2-2 his past five games despite a .937 save percentage... Sharks center Joe Pavelski has three goals his past four games, including the game-tying goal against Colorado with 20 seconds left in regulation. Center Joe Thornton, who leads the NHL with 35 assists, has six assists his past five games.

Injury report: Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek and captain Shane Doan are on IR... In addition to Hertl, San Jose will be without forwards Adam Burish (lower body) and Raffi Torres (knee), who are on injured reserve.

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
J. Thornton3853742+11420
P. Marleau38171936+7671
J. Pavelski38161935+71660
L. Couture38102030+101231
T. Hertl35151025+11233
T. Wingels3891322+82203
B. Burns25111021+151412
D. Boyle3161218+01441
J. Demers3521315+31810
M. Vlasic3841014+11600
T. Kennedy373912-21901
J. Braun383811+16811
M. Irwin262810+01310
M. Havlat22358+5600
S. Hannan29347+11400
A. Desjardins37167-45400
B. Stuart31336+52303
M. Nieto26246-3201
J. Sheppard31145-41900
M. Brown26213-24500
M. Pelech6101+12201
J. McCarthy21000-8400
F. Hamilton7000-1000
B. Kearns1000+0000
A. Niemi3320-7-6788892.37.912
A. Stalock74-1-0121882.02.936
R. Vrbata35111728-51452
M. Ribeiro3791928-22022
M. Hanzal34101525-44521
M. Boedker37101424+11220
S. Doan27121123+1862
K. Yandle3741923-62620
A. Vermette37121022+51831
O. Ekman-Larsson3741721+62823
R. Klinkhammer377714+13801
D. Moss375914+5800
D. Morris2541014+31800
M. Stone31718-41821
L. Korpikoski21448+01200
K. Chipchura37257-53000
T. Kennedy22167+5400
D. Schlemko26156-1800
P. Bissonnette22156+41100
C. Murphy14145+3801
J. Halpern25134-81000
R. Klesla18134-31000
Z. Michalek24044+101000
J. Szwarz20202-61901
A. Miele4022+2500
D. Rundblad10011-3400
C. Brown5000+01700
L. Lessio3000-2200
B. Yip2000+0000
G. Brule2000-1200
M. Smith3215-8-88910322.83.914
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