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Coyotes-Sharks Preview

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The San Jose Sharks no longer appear to be the dominant home team they were earlier in the season. The Phoenix Coyotes, meanwhile, have struggled on the road all year.

San Jose looks to complete a six-game homestand on a winning note Thursday when it faces the last-place Coyotes in the front end of a home-and-home series.

Since opening the season with nine wins in their first 11 home games, the Sharks (25-12-0) have split their last eight at HP Pavilion. They have won only two of five games on the current homestand.

San Jose was unable to beat league-leading Anaheim at home Tuesday, falling 4-3.

Particularly troubling in the loss was the fact the Sharks managed only four shots in 23 1/2 minutes against rookie goalie Michael Wall, who replaced an injured Jean-Sebastien Giguere late in the second period.

"We didn't shoot the puck enough," San Jose's Joe Pavelski said. "We missed what chances we had. We really didn't challenge them. They tightened up on us."

Usually reliable Evgeni Nabokov had a rare off night, allowing four goals on 30 shots. Nabokov was beaten by seldom-used Travis Green from long range at 2:39 of the first and gave up the game-winner to Corey Perry on a tip at 10:20 of the third period.

"I don't think we played too bad of a game, but I expect more out of myself," Nabokov said.

Nabokov, who had a 1.15 goals-against average in his previous seven starts, has not surrendered more than one goal to any opponent except Anaheim since Nov. 15.

Vesa Toskala is expected to be back in net Thursday for the Sharks, looking to continue his mastery of the Coyotes.

He has faced Phoenix twice this season and stopped all 48 shots he's faced. Toskala is 6-1-1 with a 1.94 GAA in 10 career appearances against the Coyotes.

Toskala is excited to play his first NHL game in front of his parents, who were scheduled to arrive from Finland late Tuesday.

"My parents have never seen me play in person in the NHL," he said. "When they were here last year, I was hurt."

Center Patrick Marleau has three goals and seven assists during a six-game points streak against the Coyotes.

Phoenix (13-20-2) failed to hold a lead in the final minute Tuesday at Los Angeles and lost 4-3 in a shootout.

It was the third loss in four games for the Coyotes, who are a league-worst 3-12-1 on the road.

"It's a tough point to give up, knowing how valuable they are to us with the situation we're in," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "We felt we had every opportunity to win that game."

Mikael Tellqvist made his eighth start in net for Phoenix since being acquired in a trade with Toronto on Nov. 28. Veteran Curtis Joseph has started only five games since Tellqvist's arrival.

"If you win and you play well, you're going to play the next game," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said before Tuesday's game.

Top defenseman Ed Jovanovski participated in the morning skate Tuesday, but missed his third straight game with a groin injury.

San Jose has outscored Phoenix 6-1 in winning both meetings this season and has taken three straight games in the series.

These teams meet again at Phoenix on Saturday.

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