PHOENIX — As if the Arizona Coyotes have not gone through enough this season …
Arizona lost its fourth straight game Thursday and also lost key contributor Brad Richardson for an extended period when he suffered a two broken bones in his right leg in a 3-2 overtime loss at Vancouver on Thursday.
San Jose, meanwhile, looks to finish a six-game road trip on a high note when it visits the Coyotes on Saturday at Gila River Arena.
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At the least, the Coyotes are expected to start No. 1 goaltender Mike Smith, who made his first appearance in a month in a 2-1 overtime loss at Calgary on Wednesday. Smith had not played since suffering a lower-body injury early in a 7-4 loss at Ottawa in the second game of the season Oct. 18.
San Jose (9-8) is three points behind Pacific Division-leading Anaheim. The Sharks lost to Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals last year.
The Coyotes (5-9-2) have 12 points, the fewest in the league, although they have played two fewer games than all but one of the teams in the Pacific.
The Sharks are 3-2 on the trip but have lost the last two games while scoring only two goals. They were 0-for-6 on the power play in a 3-2 loss at St. Louis on Thursday.
“We've got to find a way to cash in when we get the chance,” coach Pete DeBoer said.
San Jose will be without center Tomas Hertl, who suffered a lower body injury against St. Louis and returned to the Bay Area for further evaluation Friday.
Defenseman Brett Burns leads the Sharks with six goals and is tied with center Joe Pavelski for the team lead with 14 points. Pavelski has five goals and center Logan Couture has four.
“Sometimes it feels like we're forcing plays through bodies, through sticks,” Couture said. “Other times if feels like we're not shooting the puck, not getting motion toward the net, not getting second and third opportunities. Feels like we're one shot and out, which isn't us. We usually shoot the puck, get it back, shoot it again.”
Richardson suffered fractures to his right tibia and right fibula in a collision with Vancouver defenseman Nikita Tryamkin midway through the second period Thursday in the loss to the Canucks.
Richardson, who scored his fifth goal of the season as the Coyotes took a 2-0 lead, underwent surgery in Vancouver on Friday morning and was “stabilized,” the Coyotes said.
“He's a real heart-and-soul player,” Arizona coach Dave Tippett told the team's website. “We're thin at center ice and we lose a key guy there, it takes a toll on us.”
The Coyotes did not announce a timetable for Richardson's return, but it appears his second season with the team is in jeopardy.
Richardson, 31, is tied for second on the team in goals and tied for third with nine points. He is in the second year of a three-year, $6.25 million contract, and was signed as a free agent to add a veteran presence to a young team. He had 11 goals and a career-high 31 points last season, his 11th in the league.
In his absence, young centers Christian Dvorak and Dylan Strome could receive more playing time. Strome, 19, was the Coyotes' first-round pick in the 2015 draft, the third player taken overall. He played Thursday after missing the previous four games a healthy scratch.
Center Martin Hanzal, an unrestricted free agent next spring, had been mentioned in trade rumors, but it appears he is less likely to be moved now, if the Coyotes had ever considered a deal in the first place. Hanzal recently returned after missing five games with a lower body injury.
Coyotes wing Shane Doan, who played on Richardson's line, had his 553rd assist on Richardson's goal Thursday, tying Thomas Steen for first place on the franchise list.