Sharks-Coyotes Preview

The Phoenix Coyotes are struggling to find goals, are without

their captain and now have one of the league’s highest scoring

teams coming to town.

The San Jose Sharks have fared just fine in two games so far

without rookie sensation Tomas Hertl.

These Pacific Division rivals meet Friday night, and it’s not

clear if the Coyotes will again be without Shane Doan against the

visiting Sharks.

Doan has been out since Dec. 4 due to an illness although he has

reportedly been doing better. There is no word on when the player

tied with Antoine Vermette for the team lead with 12 goals will be

back.

Phoenix (19-10-7) is 1-2-2 in its last five games, scoring one

goal in all of the defeats. The Coyotes fell 2-1 on Monday at

Buffalo on a bizarre goal in which goalie Mike Smith had the puck

in his jersey and carried it across the line in overtime.

Coach Dave Tippett wasn’t happy with his team’s effort despite a

37-32 edge in shots.

”The game is an honest game,” said Tippett during a terse

press conference. ”If you’re supposed to win, usually you can win.

And we didn’t deserve to win tonight, so those things happen.”

Hertl scored his first two NHL goals in a 4-1 victory over

Phoenix on Oct. 5, but he is set for right knee surgery and out

indefinitely. The winger has 15 goals among his 25 points.

San Jose (23-8-6) has posted back-to-back home shootout wins

without him, 3-2 over Dallas on Saturday and 5-4 over Colorado on

Monday.

The Sharks nearly came up empty against the Avalanche as they

blew a lead with two minutes left in regulation by yielding two

goals in a 12-second span. Joe Pavelski tied it with 20 seconds to

go before San Jose converted twice in the shootout.

San Jose ended a 0-for-12 drought on the power play by scoring

twice in four chances Monday. Unheralded Jason Demers and Matt

Irwin each came through with their first power-play goals of the

season as coach Todd McLellan shook up his combinations with the

man advantage.

“I haven’t felt that we’ve had a competitive set of power plays

and what I mean by that is two groups that can fight for the ice

time,” McLellan said. “It was just every time that the power play

came, a group of players would stand up and go out and whether they

got it done or not, the next group would go out and we just got in

a rut.

“Now they don’t know who’s starting. Now they all want that time

and if one group is more productive than the other, they’ll get

it.”

This is the first 2013-14 meeting in Phoenix, where the Coyotes

are third in the league on the power play at 25.5 percent.

The Sharks have dropped five of their last six in Arizona. Smith

has won all four home starts against San Jose with Phoenix, posting

a 1.00 goals-against average with two shutouts.

San Jose is 3 for 10 on the power play in the two games in the

season series, which includes a 3-2 overtime loss Nov. 2.