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Playoff-bound Sharks visit Phoenix

by John Kreiser /

SHARKS (25-14-7) at COYOTES (19-18-8)


Last 10: San Jose 6-3-1; Phoenix 5-3-2

Season series: The San Jose Sharks have won three of the first four games against the Phoenix Coyotes this season, including a 4-0 victory nine days ago at Arena.

Big story: The Sharks are headed back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after rallying in the third period to beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Tuesday. But the Sharks need a victory to give themselves a chance to finish fourth in the Western Conference -- they're even in points with the Los Angeles Kings and visit L.A. on Saturday in the season finale for both teams.

Team Scope:

Sharks: The late comeback against Dallas assured the Sharks of their ninth consecutive trip to the postseason, the longest streak of any team except Detroit (21 years). Unlike most of the first eight, this one was a struggle -- the Sharks appeared to be restructuring for next season with some pre-deadline deals, but added speed and feistiness at the deadline

The Sharks trailed for nearly 35 minutes, but goals 30-seconds apart by Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture late in the third period turned a one-goal deficit into a one-goal win.

"We played solid right from the get go. I don't know how many posts we had, or how many great saves [Stars goalie Kari] Lehtonen made, we just kept going and kept going and kept pushing," captain Joe Thornton said. "And eventually you score. Back-to-back shifts, just a huge [two] points, I couldn't be happier."

Coyotes: The Coyotes' special teams let them down Monday night, when the Detroit Red Wings scored three times on the power play in a 4-0 victory, Phoenix's fourth loss in five games.

The loss officially eliminated the Coyotes from the playoff race-- they can get to 52 points but would lose all tiebreakers. Defenseman Keith Yandle said being eliminated from postseason play for the first time since Dave Tippett took over as coach hurts.

"Every year, in the beginning of the year, we expect to be in the playoffs," Yandle said. "We obviously know it’s not just given to you, a playoff spot, but we expected to be there. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”

Who's hot: Couture had the game-winning goal for the Sharks against Dallas and has six points in his past three games. Pavelski had the tying goal against the Stars and has scored in each of his past three games.

Injury report: San Jose is without defenseman Jason Demers (lower body), who didn't play Tuesday and is likely to sit Wednesday. … The Coyotes report no injuries.

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