San Jose was shut out for the first time this season in its last game. The Sharks, though, won't get any sympathy from the Phoenix Coyotes - who haven't scored a goal against them in nearly four games.
Led by goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, the Sharks look to continue their lengthy shutout streak against Phoenix and post their ninth straight win over the Coyotes on Thursday night at HP Pavilion.
Phoenix (16-16-0) hasn't beaten San Jose (18-11-4) since an 8-0 victory on Dec. 30 and has been outscored 34-7 in eight losses since then. Three of the defeats came when the teams met in a five-day span in mid-November.
Steve Reinprecht's goal midway through the first period of Phoenix's 4-1 loss to San Jose on Nov. 10 in the first meeting this season between the Pacific Division rivals accounted for all the Coyotes' scoring in the series so far. Since then, the Sharks have shut out Phoenix for 231 minutes while scoring 16 goals.
Nabokov made 25 saves in a 5-0 win on Nov. 12 and followed that three nights later with a 15-save performance in 6-0 road win over the Coyotes. In their most recent meeting on Dec. 7, Nabokov stopped 27 shots in the Sharks' 1-0 win.
"You can't look at the last game and think you'll do it again," San Jose defenseman Kyle McLaren told the Sharks' official Web site. "The last time we played them, it was close."
Since 1989-90, no goalie has recorded four shutouts in one season against one team. The last netminder to register four straight shutouts against one team was Buffalo's Dominik Hasek against the New York Rangers in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.
But the Sharks will be facing an improved Coyotes team. Phoenix has won three in a row and four of five on its current six-game road trip, scoring at least three goals in all its wins.
The Coyotes posted a season-high 42 shots on goal and erased a 2-0 second-period deficit to beat Philadelphia 3-2 on Tuesday. That came after Phoenix limited New Jersey and the New York Rangers to one goal each en route to victories.
"Getting wins against those teams ranks as a big accomplishment," Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle said. "They're not easy games to go into."
The biggest difference for the Coyotes has been the acquisition of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov off waivers from Anaheim on Nov. 17. After splitting his first eight starts with his new team, Bryzgalov is 4-2-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average, but one loss was against San Jose on Dec. 7.
"We always knew he was a good goalie," McLaren said. "Look at the jump they've made in goaltending since he got there. Knowing you have a goalie you can trust makes a big difference for the defensemen and the forwards."
The Coyotes have been led on the road trip by Fredrik Sjostrom with four goals and four assists. Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata each have seven points over the last five games.
A 2-0 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday dropped the Sharks to 6-8-2 at home this season. Despite that poor record, San Jose is just two points behind first-place Dallas in the Pacific.
Joe Thornton, the Sharks' leading scorer with 39 points this season, has points in each of San Jose's last eight wins over Phoenix. Thornton has notched four goals and 13 assists in that span.