GAME: Phoenix Coyotes (16-15-13-2) at San Jose Sharks (22-11-11-4).
TIME: Thursday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
The red-hot San Jose Sharks will shoot for their season high-tying fifth
straight win and a sweep of their home-and-home series with the Phoenix Coyotes
when the teams meet at the HP Pavilion.
Backed by the continued strong goaltending of Vesa Toskala, the Sharks made
it four wins in a row with a 4-2 victory at Phoenix on Wednesday. Toskala
stopped 26 shots, holding an opponent to fewer than three goals for the 14th
time in 16 games.
"It was the easiest game for me in a long time," Toskala said. "I got a
little sloppy in the end, but we was leading by three goals and they score a
goal, so it's not a big deal."
Nils Ekman had a goal and an assist, and Scott Hannan, Jonathan Cheechoo and
Alexander Korolyuk also scored for San Jose, which is 12-2-1-1 since Dec. 18.
The Sharks have defeated division leaders Vancouver, Colorado and Detroit
during their run.
"We played as solid as I've seen us play in a while," San Jose coach Ron
Wilson said. "We got a little bad luck late in the game with the two goals,
but I thought we handled ourselves well. Our defense did a great job in our
end, great use of sticks on the puck and scoring was kind of spread around."
The Sharks were without Patrick Marleau and Marco Sturm, their top two
scorers, for the second time in three games. Marleau's sore knee was bothering
him, while Sturm stayed in the Bay area to be with his wife and newborn son.
The Sharks struggled on the power play, going 0-for-6. They are 0-for-20 in
the last four games and 1-for-30 in eight games since Jan. 3.
But it had no effect on their winning streak, which is their longest since a
five-game run from Nov. 21-30.
Sean Burke stopped 34 shots, but the Coyotes are winless in five games
(0-3-2) following Brian Boucher's NHL-record five consecutive shutouts.
"There was a lot out of sync," Coyotes coach Bob Francis said. "We
weren't very good. We didn't have much emotion or energy."
Left wing Ladislav Nagy, Phoenix's goal-scoring leader with 20, played
Wednesday after missing two games because of an eye injury. He did not figure
in the scoring as Paul Mara and Shane Doan tallied for the Coyotes.