The San Jose Sharks wrap up a brief home stand as they host another struggling divisional foe in the Arizona Coyotes. The Sharks are fresh off their thrilling, see-saw affair with the Calgary Flames on Thursday night when San Jose scored four unanswered goals to take a 5-4 lead, only to fall to the Flames in a shootout.
San Jose is in the thick of the playoff hunt at the moment as they try and hold off the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the division. The Sharks would like to secure two points as they are back on the road for their last extended road trip of the season following tonight’s contest.
Meanwhile, Arizona was one of the surprise teams of the first half, but they have hit hard times of late. Many thought the Coyotes were destined to be another lottery team, but they’ve managed to hang around the playoff chase. Arizona was able to snap their five-game losing streak last night against Calgary, but still has plenty of work to do in order to make the postseason.
This will be the second of five meetings between the two clubs with the Sharks taking the first matchup back on Jan. 21 by a 3-1 margin.
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Sharks: Patrick Marleau. Marleau has always been a streaky player over the course of his career and this season has been no different. After amassing 14 goals over the first three months of the season, Marleau has just three since then, although he has found the back of the net in each of the last two games including the game-winner over Chicago. Sharks fans are hoping that Marleau is beginning to heat up again at just the right time.
Coyotes: Shane Doan. The 39-year-old captain of the Coyotes continues to produce at a high-level for a young, rebuilding franchise. Doan is the consummate professional as the 19-year veteran leads Arizona with 21 goals this season and ranks fourth on the team with 33 points. He’s been on a scoring streak of late netting four goals over his last four games, including two in their victory over Calgary.
Keys to the Game
1. Be Ready at Puck Drop
Last time out, the Sharks were blitzed in the first period as they made mistake after mistake that found its way into the back of the net. San Jose was not ready to play at the opening faceoff and that can’t happen again tonight. The Sharks need to be on their toes from the onset and look to wear down a Coyotes team that played last night.
2. Martin Jones
While Alex Stalock wasn’t the only issue for San Jose against the Flames, he certainly didn’t help his or the Sharks cause with his play between the pipes. Jones was stellar against the Blackhawks in recording his fifth shutout of the season. With Brenden Dillon still out, Jones will need to be sharp and on his game.
3. Power Play Momentum
San Jose possesses one of the most lethal power plays in the league and they have been sharp of late. The Sharks have scored six power play goals over their last three games, including three on Thursday night. The Sharks rank fourth in the league (23.1 percent) and could have ample opportunities to extend their streak to four games with a man advantage marker as the Coyotes rank 27th (77.8 percent) on the penalty kill.
TV: CSN-California (7:30 p.m. PST)
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