San Jose travels to the desert for the first of two games in a four-day span against the Arizona Coyotes.
The San Jose Sharks will hit the road for a brief stop in Arizona as they take on the Coyotes tonight in the Valley of the Sun. This will be the only road game for the Sharks over the next week-and-a-half as they return for six consecutive home games at SAP Center following tonight’s tilt.
San Jose will look to pick up their league-best 26th road victory of the season as they seek to surpass the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the Pacific Division tonight.
Meanwhile, the Arizona Coyotes have fallen out of the race as they sit nine points out of the final wild card spot heading into the day. Arizona has picked up two nice wins of late, but it’s likely way too little too late for the Coyotes at this point.
The Sharks have taken the first two meetings of the season with the most recent coming back on Feb. 13 when San Jose secured a 4-1 victory at SAP Center.
Players to Watch
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Sharks: Brent Burns. Burns has been fantastic all season long for San Jose, leading all defensemen with 26 goals and ranking second in the league with 64 points. Last time out, Burns tied Sandis Ozolinsh for the franchise record for most goals and points by a defensemen. He’s recorded a goal and an assist in the past two games, and has five goals and five assists with a plus-four rating in seven games this March.
Coyotes: Mike Smith. In his first start since Dec. 8, Smith was outstanding in making 44 saves in blanking the Edmonton Oilers on March 12th. He’s been known to have great games against San Jose in the past with a 9-5-2 record and a 2.23 GAA and a .940 save percentage. The Sharks will have to be sharp to beat Smith in this one.
Keys to the Game
1. Limit Turnovers
The Coyotes are a young team that thrives off their transition game so San Jose will need to manage the puck and ensure they don’t allow any easy opportunities for Arizona. The Sharks have been better in their own zone of late, but they will need to pay attention to the details if they want to continue their stellar road play.
2. Bodies In Front
With this being Smith’s second game back from injury, San Jose will want to make life difficult for the Coyotes netminder. Get pucks and bodies to the net so he can’t settle into any kind of rhythm. The Sharks have done a nice job of providing a netfront presence in their past two games and will look to do the same tonight.
3. Keep It Rolling
San Jose has done well against top teams of late, but the Sharks haven’t been as sharp against teams that are out of the mix. Again, focus on the details and be into the game from the drop of the puck. If the Sharks want to have any shot of chasing down the Kings, they must take advantage of games like this.
TV: CSN-California (7:00 p.m. PDT)
Radio: 98.5 KFOX