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San Jose Sharks vs. Phoenix Coyotes @NHLdotcom
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GAME: San Jose Sharks (39-20-12-6) at Phoenix Coyotes (21-32-18-6).

TIME: Friday, 9 p.m. EST.

All alone in second place in the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks hope to continue their climb toward the top spot as they visit the lowly Phoenix Coyotes.

With wins in four of their last five, the Sharks are just five points behind Detroit with five games to play. San Jose's 96 points is three shy of the franchise record.

San Jose, which owns a tenuous three-point lead over Dallas atop the Pacific Division, is just two points ahead of Colorado in the conference.

The Sharks followed Tuesday's 5-2 win over Detroit with a 3-2 win over playoff hopeful Calgary on Thursday.

Vincent Damphousse banked in a shot off Miikka Kiprusoff's leg with 23.2 seconds to play as the Sharks rebounded after blowing a two-goal lead in the final 6{ minutes of the third period.

Evgeni Nabokov stopped 28 shots for the Sharks, who have won six of their last eight.

Right wing Jonathan Cheechoo has eight goals and three assists over his last eight games. With an assist on Thursday, Mike Rathje became the Sharks' franchise scoring leader among defensemen. He has 154 points.

Two days after ending an 0-8-4-3 slide, the Coyotes got right back to their losing ways with a 4-0 loss to Calgary on Wednesday.

Brent Johnson stopped 27 shots for the Coyotes, who beat Minnesota in overtime Monday to snap the third-longest winless streak in franchise history.

The Coyotes took 12 shots in the first period, then fizzled with two in the second.

"We got away from our game," captain Shane Doan said. "We played solid in the first with energy and skated hard."

Phoenix, with just three wins in its last 29 games (3-17-5-4), has not won at home since Feb. 20 against Columbus.

STANDINGS: Sharks - 96 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Coyotes - 66 points, 5th place, 30 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Patrick Marleau, 28 goals and 55 points; Nils Ekman, 29 assists; Scott Parker, 101 PIM. Coyotes - Doan, 25 goals, 41 assists and 66 points; Andrei Nazarov, 125 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 24): Sharks - Power play: 16.8 percent (53 for 315), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (256 for 302), 7th. Coyotes - Power play: 14.7 percent (50 for 341), 25th. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (314 for 382), 22nd.

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Nabokov (28-19-8, 8 SO, 2.25 GAA); Vesa Toskala (11-7-4, 0, 2.11). Coyotes - Brian Boucher (9-17-10, 5, 2.70); Johnson (5-7-2, 1, 2.51).

SEASON SERIES: Sharks, 3-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 5; Sharks, 5-0. At San Jose, Calif., Nabokov made 20 saves for his second straight shutout and Nils Ekman had three assists.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Sharks - 17-13-5-4 on the road; Coyotes - 10-18-7-4 at home.

Associated Press
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