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Sharks end regular season with visit to Coyotes

by John Kreiser

SHARKS (50-22-9) at COYOTES (36-29-15)


Last 10: San Jose 4-4-2; Phoenix 2-4-4

Season series: The San Jose Sharks are 2-0-1 in their first three games against the Phoenix Coyotes, including a 4-3 shootout victory at Arena on Dec. 27.

Big story: The Coyotes had hoped this would be a big game and that a victory would give them the chance to lock up the second wild-card position in the Western Conference by beating the Dallas Stars at home Sunday. Instead, the Coyotes lost 2-0 on the road to the Nashville Predators on Thursday and saw their hopes of making the Stanley Cup Playoff end when the Stars beat the St. Louis Blues 3-0 on Friday. The Sharks, who beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-1 at home Friday, are playing their regular-season finale; they begin the playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings next week.

Team Scope:

Sharks: San Jose had about as good a regular-season home finale as any team could ask. Marty Havlat had his sixth career hat trick in a 5-1 rout of the Avalanche.

The Sharks are locked into a first-round series against the Kings, so the game against the Coyotes is a tuneup. That doesn't mean coach Todd McLellan is taking it lightly.

"I still have concerns going into tomorrow's game," he said after watching his team rout Colorado. "It's at the end of the year when your minds are almost moving on to play against L.A., then you still have to play in these games. I thought we did a good job of staying engaged for most of the game. It was a little more physical than I thought it might be for both teams, but that was fine. It kept us involved and kept us going."

Coyotes: Six consecutive losses, three of them in regulation, mean that the Coyotes are heading home after Sunday. Phoenix has scored all of seven goals during its 0-3-3 slide, and the 2-0 loss in Nashville was the second time the Coyotes were shut out during that span.

"We haven't created enough and when we do create the chances, we don't finish," coach Dave Tippett said. "So it's frustrating."

Who's hot: Sharks center Joe Pavelski has four points in his past five games and leads San Jose with 39 goals. Defenseman Dan Boyle scored Friday night, giving him four goals in seven games. … Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has assists in two of his past three games and leads the team in scoring with 53 points.

Injury report: The good news for the Sharks was that rookie forward Tomas Hertl returned Friday from a knee injury. San Jose is still without forwards Raffi Torres (knee) and Adam Burish (hand). Defenseman Scott Hannan left the game Friday in the first period after taking an elbow to the head. … Phoenix is still without starting goaltender Mike Smith (leg) and center Martin Hanzal (lower body).

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