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At the Rink: Sharks at Coyotes

by Jerry Brown /

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have allowed 134 goals in the first 41 games of the season, a statistic that has been hard for coach Dave Tippett to swallow. And with his team a lap behind the contenders for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he's ready to see what the future offers.

Defenseman Philip Samuelsson, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Rob Klinkhammer trade last month, was recalled from the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League on Tuesday and could play Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks.

Samuelsson is the son of two-time Stanley Cup winning defenseman Ulf Samuelsson and the brother of Henrik Samuelsson, chosen by the Coyotes with the 27th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, who also is playing in Portland.

"The first half of the season didn't go anywhere near the way anyone expected it would," Tippett said. "The goal is to get better. You can either keep going with what you have or you can try some things different. It's time to try some things different."

For the Sharks, a 4-5-1 record represents a funk that must end. For the Coyotes, a 5-5-0 record means a step in the right direction, albeit a baby step.

The Sharks have lost three of the past five, including twice by a 7-2 score against the St. Louis Blues. But with center Joe Thornton back in the lineup and forward Tyler Kennedy returning Tuesday, the Sharks will look to end a two-game losing streak (0-2-0) and improve their spot in a very tight Stanley Cup Playoff race in the Western Conference.

The Coyotes have won five of the past eight games, but the three losses have come by a combined score of 17-1. Mike Smith allowed five goals in a 5-1 loss against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, so coach Dave Tippett will go back to Devan Dubnyk for his first start in the past five games.

Dubnyk earned a 4-3 win against the Sharks on Nov. 22 with 40 saves and two more in the shootout, with Antoine Vermette scoring to give Arizona the second point.

"Smith played four in a row and we want to get [Dubnyk] back in there," Tippett said. "He had a good game against them last time and hopefully he has another good one. We're going to need both goalies the way the schedule is coming up with a lot of back-to-backs."

Arizona will get defenseman Zbynek Michalek back Tuesday. Michalek missed the past two games with an upper-body injury. Center Martin Hanzal (upper body) was placed on injured reserve but he skated Tuesday and Tippett said he's hoping to have the big center in the lineup Thursday against the Calgary Flames.

Here are the projected lineups:


Patrick Marleau - Joe Thornton- Matt Nieto

Melker Karlsson - Logan Couture - Joe Pavelski

Tommy Wingels - James Sheppard - Barclay Goodrow

Tyler Kennedy - Tomas Hertl - Tye McGinn

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun

Scott Hannan - Matt Irwin

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

Scratched: John Scott, Freddie Hamilton, Andrew Desjardins, Matt Tennyson

Injured: Raffi Torres (knee), Mike Brown (lower body), Mirco Mueller (upper body)


Martin Erat - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Lucas Lessio - Sam Gagner - Mikkel Boedker

Tobias Rieder - Kyle Chipchura - Lauri Korpikoski

Brandon McMillan - Joe Vitale - David Moss

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Zbynek Michalek

Keith Yandle - Michael Stone

Chris Summers - Connor Murphy

Devan Dubnyk

Mike Smith

Scratched: B.J. Crombeen, Philip Samuelsson

Injured: Martin Hanzal (upper body), Brandon Gormley (lower body)

Status report: Summers and McMillan were placed on waivers to give the Coyotes some roster flexibility. Each is expected to be in the lineup. … Samuelsson played three games with the Penguins last season. He is the seventh player called up from the AHL to make either his NHL or Coyotes debut since the start of the season.

Who's hot: Karlsson has a goal in five straight games. The rookie has six goals and 10 points in his first 14 NHL games. … Boedker has three goals in the past two games for Arizona.

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