Coyotes hope to continue historic run at home
Thursday, 12.31.2009 / 2:00 PM
Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
SHARKS (25-8-7) at COYOTES (25-13-3)
: San Jose 6-2-2; Phoenix 7-2-1.
: This is the fourth of six meetings between the Pacific Division rivals. The Coyotes are 2-0-1 against the Sharks, as they took the first two games before San Jose earned a 3-2 shootout win on Monday at HP Pavilion.
: One would experience difficulty arguing against the popular opinion that the Coyotes are the best story in hockey right now. Despite a summer loaded with turmoil, Phoenix has won a franchise-record 10 consecutive games on home ice and trails the conference-leading Sharks by just four points.
: San Jose is rolling right along and is coming off an impressive 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals -- their sixth straight -- at HP Pavilion on Wednesday night. It was somewhat of a historic affair, too, as the Sharks became the first team in nearly 28 years to convert on two penalty shots in the same game. Joe Thornton
and Ryane Clowe
scored to match the Vancouver Canucks' success in Detroit on Feb. 11, 1982.
"They are a very aggressive team and they like to pinch," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of the Caps. "We talked about winning those small pinching battles and having good support. We got away with it a number of times when their defense stepped up and we got in behind them. It resulted in a number of breakaways, and actually a couple of goals."
: Speaking of history, Phoenix made some its own on Tuesday night with its 3-2 shootout victory against Vancouver -- it's 10th straight win at home. It surpassed the nine-game streak set by the Winnipeg Jets from Dec. 27, 1992 through Jan. 23, 1993.
''I'm just proud of how hard the guys competed,'' Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. ''I mean you've got Vancouver on a winning streak, sitting here last night watching our game on TV. We played a hard, hard game in San Jose and we come back here and the guys muster up that kind of effort, it makes our whole coaching staff very proud.''
: Joe Pavelski
scored twice on Wednesday and has three goals in his last two games. … All six of Petr Prucha's goals have come in the last 14 games, and the Coyotes' forward has scored in back-to-back contests.
: Sharks forwards Brad Staubitz (face) and Jody Shelley (hand) are not expected to play. … Coyotes defenseman James Vandermeer is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, as is center Vernon Fiddler (groin). Daniel Winnik (arm) and Kurt Sauer (neck) will not play.
: Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera has only made two starts since Nov. 16 due to the phenomenal play of Ilya Bryzgalov. Both have been shootout victories, including Tuesday's win against the Canucks.
: "I've seen three shorthanded goals against, but two penalty shot goals, I haven't. It was nice to see both of them score. Maybe we can find a way to do that in the shootout a little more often. Obviously, (it was) a big turning point in the game for us." -- Sharks coach Todd McLellan after Wednesday's win