Sharks-Coyotes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 09, 2012
The San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes have each been atop the Pacific Division in the past two weeks. Neither, however, has been able to maintain that position. In a matchup between teams desperate for two points, the scuffling Sharks and Coyotes take the ice Saturday night in Arizona. By opening 2012 with a 10-3-2 run, San Jose (33-24-9) took over first in the division, and it looked like Todd McLellan's team was primed to capture its fifth straight Pacific title. A 5-3 loss at Phoenix on Feb. 4, however, took the steam out of the Sharks' surge and gave life to the Coyotes. Starting with the win over San Jose - highlighted by two goals from Lauri Korpikoski - Phoenix went 11-0-1 in February. As the Sharks proceeded to free fall, the Coyotes (33-25-10) moved into a first-place tie with San Jose on Feb. 21 after trailing by 12 points three weeks earlier. Phoenix has gone 0-4-1 this month, however, and now trails Pacific-leading Dallas by three points. San Jose is also winless in March (0-2-2) and is 4-10-3 since losing to the Coyotes last month to drop four points back of the Stars. The Sharks were on the verge of earning two points in Dallas on Thursday after Joe Pavelski put them in front 3-2 with his 24th goal at 16:28 of the third period. Tomas Vincour tied the score with 15 seconds left in regulation, however, and had the lone goal in the shootout to hand San Jose a 4-3 loss. "We just can't give up that last goal," said Pavelski, who has scored twice in his last 12 games. "There definitely was some good out there, but it's tough to accept when you don't get two points. We've got to find a way to win." The Coyotes are feeling the same way, looking to avoid their first six-game skid since Jan. 27-Feb. 7, 2009. Phoenix showed some fight Thursday against Minnesota, rallying from a two-goal deficit in the third period as Raffi Torres and Korpikoski scored, but it fell in a shootout 3-2. The Coyotes allowed two first-period goals and have been outscored 10-1 in the opening 20 minutes over their last five games. "We're not the kind of team geared to come from behind," backup goaltender Jason LaBarbera said. "We play better with a lead, and that's our identity. When you're chasing the game, it makes everything much more difficult on everybody." The Coyotes could have better luck against a Sharks team that has scored two first-period goals in its last four games. Both teams might be in better shape if they could get their power plays going. The Coyotes are 2 for 21 with the man advantage during their losing streak, while the Sharks have failed to score on all 10 power-play chances during their skid. San Jose's offense as a whole has been sluggish lately, scoring three goals or fewer in 11 straight games and no more than two in eight of them. Logan Couture, tied with Patrick Marleau for the team lead with 27 goals, has gone a season-worst six games without a score. That lack of firepower has made things tough on Antti Niemi, who has a 2.18 goals-against average in starting all four games of the Sharks' losing streak. In his lone start of the season against the Coyotes last month, Niemi allowed four goals on 23 shots. Phoenix's Mike Smith has been between the pipes for the season's first three meetings, going 2-1-0 with a 3.03 GAA. He is 0-3-0 with a 3.63 GAA in his last four starts.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Yankees, Cubs in 'final stages' of Chapman trade

Repot: NFL to investigate Aldon Smith over Periscope video

Report: Fitzpatrick got ‘multiple contract offers’ from Jets

A-Rod: Ortiz deserves Fenway statue, street named after him

Report: Bosh's camp 'angry and suspicious of Heat's intentions'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

JJ Watt pens dramatic letter to fans about back injury

Le’Veon Bell vows to win appeal: ‘I’m not going to miss games’

Dallas Cowboys' team employee bus involved in fatal crash

Aldon Smith posts video under a pseudonym of a blunt on Periscope

WATCH: Cam Newton get blocked by a girl playing volleyball

Russia avoids complete ban from Rio Olympics by the IOC

Julian Edelman is dating Adriana Lima?

NFL reportedly determines Peyton Manning didn't use PEDs

KD, Draymond Green booed in L.A. during Team USA exhibition

Top storyline for each NFL team heading into training camp

Eight MLB veterans that need to be traded before deadline

Andre the Giant drank six bottles of wine before match?

Cristiano Ronaldo spars with Conor McGregor in gym

Adam Silver is the new standard-bearer for league commisioners

Iowa football player held at gunpoint by police while playing Pokemon Go

Eight most significant injuries going into NFL training camp

Man. U players banned from playing 'Pokemon Go?'

Ken Griffey Jr. put on backwards hat during HOF speech

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker