Coyotes-Sharks Preview

With seven points in the last four games, the San Jose Sharks are doing all they can to keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

They’ll look to continue that surge Friday night in the opener of a home-and-home series with the visiting Arizona Coyotes.

Rookie Chris Tierney scored for the third time in five games and backup Alex Stalock faced only 20 shots during a 5-1 home win over Colorado on Wednesday.

Though the Sharks (38-30-9) are 10th in the Western Conference, they’ve totaled 15 goals during a 3-0-1 stretch that has them five points out of the final wild-card spot with five games remaining.

”Hopefully we can get a couple more wins here and make it interesting,” forward John Scott said.

San Jose’ streak of 10 consecutive seasons with a playoff appearance trails only Detroit’s 23.

"Just try to win the next one," forward Logan Couture said. "That’s what we’ve been trying to do for a little while here."

While the Sharks need more than a couple of wins and some help to reach the postseason, they’ve gained confidence of late.

”We’re starting to get in a groove right now,” said Tierney, who had just two goals in his first 33 games. ”If we keep playing the way we did (Wednesday) and fast and supporting each other, we’ll get a lot of wins I think.”

Stalock is 2-0-1 with a 1.58 goals-against average while making three straight starts in place of Antti Niemi, whose status remains uncertain due to an illness.

Stalock’s only appearance against the Coyotes (23-46-8) came in his NHL debut while stopping all nine shots in relief of Niemi during a 5-3 home win Feb. 1, 2011.

San Jose is 5-0-2 in the last seven meetings after rallying from an early 2-0 hole in a 4-3 shootout loss at home Nov. 22 and winning the next two matchups in Arizona.

Joe Pavelski, who had a hat trick in a 4-2 victory Feb. 13, has scored nine times during a six-game goal streak against the Coyotes. It’s his longest such stretch versus any opponent.

One of Mike Smith’s 39 losses came while making 22 saves against the Sharks on Feb. 13. Smith, who could be in net Friday or in Saturday’s home matchup, is in danger of becoming the first goalie to lose 40 games since Marc Denis dropped 41 for Columbus in 2002-03.

Smith has faced at least 30 shots in 13 of his last 15 starts, including more than 40 on three occasions. The 33.0 average shots the Coyotes allow is tied for the highest in the West.

Smith made 32 saves in Monday’s 4-1 home loss to Buffalo.

"It would have been way (worse) of an outcome as far as goals if it wasn’t for him," defenseman Connor Murphy told the Coyotes’ official website after scoring his fourth goal.

It hasn’t helped that Arizona ranks second-to-last in the NHL with 2.03 goals per game and has been held to two or fewer 20 times during a 3-19-1 stretch.