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Sharks-Coyotes Preview

NHL.com @NHL

Considering all the close games they have played lately, the San Jose Sharks surely won't mind seeing the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday.

These clubs meet Friday in Phoenix for the first time since the Sharks played the Coyotes three times in a six-day span in mid-November and came away with three of their most lopsided wins of the season.

San Jose (14-8-4) has won three straight - all by 3-2 scores. The team has played six consecutive one-goal games, including two shootout losses, since it last met Phoenix (12-14-0) on Nov. 15.

With a 6-0 victory in that game, the Sharks ran their shutout streak against the Coyotes to 171 minutes. Five days earlier, the teams played for the first time this season and Phoenix took a 1-0 lead with 11 minutes left in the first period. However, the Sharks won that game 4-1 to match their most lopsided win of the season, and they had an even easier time two days later in a 5-0 victory.

Their dominance is a carryover from last season, as the Sharks have won seven consecutive meetings while outscoring the Coyotes 33-7.

San Jose has outshot Phoenix in each matchup this season and has gone 4-for-11 on the power play while holding the Coyotes scoreless in 10 opportunities.

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was in net for all three games, stopping 62 of 63 shots. He's won five straight starts versus Phoenix, posting a 0.80 goals-against average.

Nabokov, who made 17 saves in San Jose's 3-2 win over Dallas on Wednesday, has allowed more than two goals only once in his last 11 starts.

The three wins over Phoenix are part of the Sharks' current 7-1-2 run, which has moved them within two points of Dallas for the Pacific Division lead.

Sharks center Joe Thornton scored the go-ahead goal with 8:36 left and added two assists on Wednesday. Thornton has four goals and six assists in his last four games.

"It was a pretty dominating performance by Thornton," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "It's not just points but all the other little details he has in his game. To have a player like that, it's enjoyable to watch."

Thornton has 16 points during San Jose's seven-game win streak against the Coyotes, including two goals and four assists this season.

Phoenix is coming off a 4-1 victory over Los Angeles in a matchup of the two worst teams in the Western Conference.

The Coyotes had lost their previous four games by a combined 15-5 score.

"Nobody wants to lose and have the streak go up and up," said Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who had a 4.49 GAA during the losing skid. "I think it's a big game for us. I hope it puts us back on track again."

Bryzgalov, claimed off waivers from Anaheim on Nov. 17, had 28 saves on Wednesday to improve to 3-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA in Phoenix this season. He is 2-2-1 with a 2.16 GAA and one shutout in seven career games against the Sharks.

The Coyotes have outscored opponents 13-3 in winning their last three games at home after going 2-7-0 there to start the season.

"If we play like that and keep playing like that, things are going to turn different for us," said rookie Peter Mueller, who had a goal and two assists on Wednesday.

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