Coyotes re-energized for home stretch, starting with Sharks
The Arizona Coyotes should be refreshed, energized and well-rested as they host the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night at Gila River Arena.
The game can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona Plus, starting at 6:30 p.m.
The Coyotes have had four days off since concluding a four-game road trip with a 4-0 victory at Edmonton on Saturday night in Mike Smith’s first game in goal since December surgery to repair a core muscle injury. The Coyotes (30-32-7) won the final two games of a four-game trip after going 0-1-1 in the first two.
Smith is expected to start again on Thursday, though coach Dave Tippett said this week that Louis Domingue will continue to see action in goal because he earned it with solid play during Smith’s absence.
"I didn’t feel good," Smith said after Saturday’s win. "The goal wasn’t to come in and feel unbelievable. It’s part of the process. But saying that, it’s definitely a confidence builder."
Antoine Vermette scored twice and had an assist to give him four goals and five assists over his last five.
"We want to establish a good culture around here and create good habits, regardless of where we are in the standings," Vermette said.
The Coyotes have played the Sharks just two times — losing both — over their first 69 games but will meet them three times over the final 13.
San Jose (39-24-6) has won its last four games on the road and continues to get a major offensive lift from defenseman Brent Burns, who has six goals and seven assists over his last eight games.
Burns has set career highs with 26 goals and 64 points while tying Sandis Ozolinsh’s team records for a defenseman in 1993-94. His 38 assists are five short of matching his career best after recording one on Joonas Donskoi’s winning goal in the third period of Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over Boston.
Burns is closing in on becoming the first defenseman to finish with at least 30 goals since Mike Green netted 31 for Washington in 2008-09.
"I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty cool honor," Burns said. "I just think it means I’m playing with a lot of great players. You’re the recipient of a lot of great plays by guys."
With seven wins in their last night games, the Sharks have pulled within five points of Pacific Division leading Los Angeles. Their 25 road wins are the most in the league.