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Surging Sharks welcome in Coyotes @NHLdotcom

COYOTES (2-2-0) at SHARKS (3-2-0)

Season Series: This is the first of six meetings between Phoenix and San Jose this season. They split the season series last year with each taking three regulation wins. San Jose was 2-1 at home.

Big Story: After a slow start, the Sharks have won back-to-back games against Columbus and Minnesota. The Coyotes are going in the other direction. After a hot start that included a 3-0 win in Pittsburgh, they've lost two straight and managed just one goal in their last 120 minutes. After tonight's game, the Sharks head east for six straight games. They no doubt want to head into that trip on a high. On the other hand, the Coyotes start a four-game homestand after this game and could use a little positive momentum going forward.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Their goaltending has been spectacular as Ilya Bryzgalov and Jason LaBarbera have combined to allow just six goals in four games. However, the Coyotes' offense is struggling. After netting six goals in a season-opening win in Los Angeles, Phoenix has scored just four goals in three games. Three of those goals came in a stunning 3-0 win in Pittsburgh. After a tumultuous summer, Phoenix managed to sell out its home-opener, but got washed out by the Blue Jackets, 2-0.

Sharks: Evgeni Nabokov has been much better in the last two games after giving up four goals in just 32 minutes of work against L.A. last Tuesday. He stopped 38 of 40 shots in the 4-2 win over the Wild on Saturday night. Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton have also developed early chemistry. They each have 10 points, with Heatley owning a team-high five goals and Thornton a League-best nine assists.

Who's Hot: Bryzgalov has stopped 47 of the last 48 shots he's faced dating back to Drew Doughty's goal 11:56 into the third period of the Coyotes' season-opening 6-3 loss to Los Angeles. … Heatley and Patrick Marleau, who both had controversial summers, are off to hot starts with five goals each. Marleau scored twice and Heatley had the game-winner in the Sharks' win over Minnesota. Thornton has nine assists after being shut out in the season opener.

Injury Report: Sharks centers Torrey Mitchell and Joe Pavelski are out. Mitchell is on long-term IR due to tendinitis in his knee and Pavelski had minor foot surgery last week and is out at least two weeks. Petr Prucha is day-to-day for the Coyotes after being knocked out of last Thursday's game in Buffalo. Taylor Pyatt hasn't played yet after suffering a lower-body injury in the preseason.

Stat Pack: Faceoffs will be interesting to watch tonight. The Sharks are No. 1 in the NHL at 58.4 percent while the Coyotes are No. 2 at 56.7 percent. … Heatley has six points in seven career games against the Coyotes. … Before going 0-for-7 on the power play Saturday, the Coyotes were 4-for-15 (26.7 percent) to start the season.

Puck Drop: "The preparation hasn't changed for any of the games we've played, but the commitment level has from night to night," Sharks coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News.

-- Dan Rosen,



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