Preview: Coyotes vs. Sharks, 5:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona
If you were to evaluate the NHL’s Pacific Division race by the last three weeks, you’d think the Arizona Coyotes were the front-running team and the San Jose Sharks were an also-ran.
After all, Arizona is 7-3-1 in its last 11 contests and San Jose has won just three of its last nine (3-2-4).
In San Jose’s case, fatigue may be setting in as the Pacific Division leader approaches its bye week after Saturday’s game in Arizona and Sunday’s home contest against Boston.
“A break’s going to be nice, for sure,” said Sharks goalie Martin Jones, who has started 49 of the team’s 58 games and has seen his save percentage in February dip to .882. “Anybody in the league will tell you a break’s going to be good.”
The Sharks have a host of recent problems, but one that has plagued them all season is the power play. San Jose is 22nd in the league with the man advantage at 16.8 percent. The only team in a postseason position with a lower percentage is Ottawa (24th, 16.4 percent).
San Jose went 0 for 3 in Wednesday’s overtime loss to Florida, generating just four shots on goal.
“Obviously, we could have used a power-play goal,” center Logan Couture said. “The power play has struggled.”
The Coyotes won’t be going to the postseason. They still sit 29th in the 30-team NHL despite their recent surge, but the team is feeling much better about its youth movement.
Arizona posted a 5-3 win in Los Angeles after rookie left winger Brendan Perlini had a pair of goals, second-year center Jordan Martinook had two goals and three points and rookie center Christian Dvorak (one assist) was a plus-3.
“We really have evolved; the new guys have finally gotten comfortable,” Arizona general manager John Chayka said. “We are starting to get some traction and build success, we have great young players and our future really is bright. We are just getting started.”
Coyotes backup goalie Louis Domingue suffered a lower-body injury during the morning skate on Thursday in Los Angeles and is considered day-to-day. Arizona recalled goaltender Marek Langhamer on an emergency basis and he remains with the team.
Left winger Lawson Crouse (lower body) missed the team’s three-game road trip and is considered day to day. He has not been ruled out for Saturday’s game.
Arizona left winger Jamie McGinn was a healthy scratch against the Kings; the first time that has happened this season. McGinn, who is a former Shark, has eight goals and 14 points in 50 games after signing a three-year, $10 million deal this summer as a free agent.
Sharks right winger Joonas Donskoi (upper body) likely is out until after the bye week. Defenseman Dylan DeMelo (wrist) is on injured reserve.
Mike Smith is expected to start in goal for Arizona. Sharks coach Peter DeBoer has not named a starter, but likely will split the weekend games between Jones and backup Aaron Dell.