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Sharks-Coyotes Preview

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GAME: San Jose Sharks (40-26-11) at Phoenix Coyotes (36-36-5)

TIME: Monday, 10 p.m. EDT.

A late-season four-game winning streak has kept the San Jose Sharks in the running for a playoff spot.

That streak will be tested when San Jose meets the Phoenix Coyotes - a team it has struggled against all season.

The Sharks have dropped six of seven against the Coyotes, including consecutive home losses on March 30 and April 1.

San Jose is tied with Edmonton for seventh place in the Western Conference. Both are one point behind sixth-place Colorado, but have a two-point lead over ninth-place Vancouver.

The Sharks and Canucks will meet in a crucial home-and-home series starting Wednesday in San Jose.

San Jose extended its winning streak with a 4-1 win Sunday over Pacific Division champion Dallas.

Joe Thornton, acquired in a Nov. 30 trade with Boston, had two assists to set an NHL record for most points by a player who changed teams during the season. He has 113 points, breaking the mark set by Bernie Nicholls in 1989-90 with Los Angeles and the New York Rangers.

But Thornton has not recorded a point in his last two games versus the Coyotes, and just has a goal and four assists in six games against them this season.

Sharks captain Patrick Marleau had a goal versus Dallas, and his 84 points ties him with Owen Nolan for the Sharks' single-season points record. Nolan set the record in 1999-2000.

"I should have had a couple of goals earlier with (Thornton)," said Marleau, who also set a franchise record with his 20th power-play goal of the season. "I'm glad he stuck with me and found me the third time."

Marleau has four goals and two assists in seven games this season against the Coyotes.

Jonathan Cheechoo, who is enjoying a breakout season, needs one goal to become the league's third 50-goal scorer, joining the Rangers' Jaromir Jagr and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk. Three of Cheechoo's 49 goals this season have come against Phoenix.

Since beating the Sharks in back-to-back games, the Coyotes have dropped three in a row, and eliminated from postseason contention for the third straight season.

Phoenix lost 3-2 in a shootout Saturday to Dallas. Shane Doan and newly signed Bill Thomas scored power-play goals in the loss.

Thomas' goal was his first in the NHL after being signed from the University of Nebraska-Omaha on March 27.

STANDINGS: Sharks - 91 points, 3rd place, 16 PB, Pacific Division. Coyotes - 77 points, 5th place, 30 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Sharks - Cheechoo, 49 goals; Joe Thornton, 83 assists and 113 points; Mark Smith, 97 PIM. Coyotes - Doan, 29 goals and 64 points; Ladislav Nagy, 41 assists; Sean O'Donnell, 121 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Sharks - Power play: 17.6 percent (82 for 467), 20th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent (303 for 372), 21st. Coyotes - Power play: 18.2 percent (92 for 506), 14th. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (386 for 478), 23rd.

GOALTENDERS: Sharks - Evgeni Nabokov (15-18-7, 1 SO, 3.08 GAA); Vesa Toskala (20-7-4, 2, 2.52). Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (30-21-3, 2, 3.01); Philippe Sauve (3-6-0, 0, 3.54).

SEASON SERIES: Coyotes, 6-1.

LAST MEETING: April 1; Coyotes, 4-3 (OT). At San Jose, Calif., Steve Reinprecht completed his first career hat trick 1:05 into overtime.

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

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