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Sharks, Coyotes clash in finale of home-and-home

by Tal Pinchevsky
COYOTES (43-25-13) at SHARKS (47-25-9)

TV -- FS-A (HD), CSN-CA (HD)

Last 10 --
Phoenix 6-2-2; San Jose 7-2-1

Season series -- This is the final game of the 2010-11 campaign for two teams that could potentially meet in the first round of the playoffs. San Jose had won the first four games against Phoenix this season by a combined score of 17-7 before coming into Glendale on Friday night and losing 4-3.

Big story -- Both teams have already clinched a playoff berth, so this game is primarily about gaining favorable seeding for the upcoming playoffs. San Jose and Phoenix will both be looking to improve their finish of a year ago, when the Coyotes were eliminated by Detroit in the opening round and the Sharks were ousted by Chicago in the conference final.

Team scope:

Coyotes --
Friday was a special night for the Coyotes. Not only did the win over the Sharks allow Phoenix to clinch a playoff spot for the second consecutive season, but Ilya Bryzgalov also became the franchise leader in wins. The win snapped a two-game skid for the Coyotes in which they dropped back-to-back shutouts to Colorado and Los Angeles. It also marked the first time since 1998-2000 that the Coyotes made the postseason in back-to-back seasons.

Against the Sharks, Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata both registered a goal and an assist while Eric Belanger collected two helpers. Phoenix led 4-1 almost halfway through the third period, but two goals from the Sharks closed the gap before Bryzgalov shut the door for his 130th victory with the Coyotes.

Sharks -- The Sharks had already clinched the Pacific Division coming into the weekend series with Phoenix, so their only remaining concern was retaining the No. 2 seed in the conference. Despite the loss in Glendale, San Jose was able to retain its hold on the spot thanks to Detroit's 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks on Friday.

In San Jose's late comeback attempt against the Coyotes, Joe Thornton's goal gave him 1,000 points for his career, making the six-time All Star the 78th player in NHL history to reach the exalted plateau. Just the second player to reach the mark as a Shark after Vincent Damphousse, Thornton was more focused on the upcoming playoffs than his recent milestone.

"We feel good about our club and we feel confident," Thornton said. "We've got three more periods before the big party starts, so it's nice."

Who's hot --
Doan has 4 points in his last three games while Coyotes teammate Belanger has 4 points (all assists) in his last four games. … For the Sharks, Thornton has 10 points in his last nine games and Patrick Marleau has 8 points in his last five games.

Injury report --
Kurt Sauer (concussion) is the Coyotes' lone injury. … For the Sharks, Ryane Clowe could return from injury while Kent Huskins is on IR with an upper-body injury.

Stat pack --
With one more point, Keith Yandle will reach 60 for the season, the first time a Phoenix defenseman has reached the plateau. The last defenseman in franchise history to do that was Phil Housley, who had 97 points for the Winnipeg Jets in the 1992-93 campaign. His 79 assists that season are the most of any player in franchise history.

Puck drop -- By making the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season, the Sharks now have the second-longest active streak in the League behind Detroit's 20 straight appearances. The Sharks ranked third in this category coming into the season but will pass the Devils, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign. In the lengthy Detroit and New Jersey streaks, both teams won the Stanley Cup in their seventh straight year of making the playoffs; the Red Wings in 1997 and the Devils in 2003.

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