Coyotes try to bring road magic to San Jose
By Santosh Venkataraman
STATS Senior Writer
The Phoenix Coyotes continue to shine on the road, but beating the San Jose Sharks has been a completely different story for them.
The Coyotes will try to win their sixth straight away from home Tuesday night and end a six-game slide against the Sharks.
Although Phoenix (25-17-9) has lost four straight at home, it's in position for its first six-game road win streak since Dec. 15, 2007-Jan. 8, 2008. The Coyotes have limited opponents to 1 for 17 on the power play during this run.
"We've gotten timely goals, and there's a combination of things that have been the recipe for success," coach Dave Tippett said. "At home we need to get a simpler approach, a harder approach - it seems to give our team a better chance to win."
Phoenix has not been able to employ that formula during an 0-3-3 stretch against San Jose (25-19-6).
Veteran center Joe Thornton has two goals and three assists, and Antti Niemi has posted a 1.50 goals-against average in two wins over the Coyotes this season.
Niemi has a 1.94 GAA as San Jose has gone 4-0-1 in its last five games. The Sharks' four-game win streak was snapped in a 3-2 shootout loss at Los Angeles on Wednesday, its last outing prior to the All-Star break.
"I think we came to play," coach Todd McLellan said. "The effort was there, the grinding part of the game was there, but I don't think we were sharp enough to win."
Devin Setoguchi has three goals in his last two games, and center Logan Couture has scored in four straight, a streak that began when he had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 road victory over Phoenix on Jan. 17.
This is the final home game for the Sharks before a seven-game trip. They have won two straight at HP Pavilion after losing six in a row there.
Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle, the team's lone All-Star, enters with the longest current point streak in the NHL at nine games (two goals, 12 assists). Yandle, ironically, was one of the few skaters not to register a point in Sunday's 11-10 All-Star game.
Phoenix right wing Lee Stempniak has five goals and six assists during a seven-game run. He believes the team's mentality on the road is the key to its strong play.
"We're a no-frills team, play four lines and try to outwork the other team," Stempniak said. "It's probably more conducive on the road where you're happy to have a tight-game mentality. We've embraced it."
Ilya Bryzgalov has a 2.13 GAA in his last four starts against the Sharks - one regulation loss and three shootout losses. His last three starts at HP Pavilion have ended in shootouts.
Backup Jason LaBarbera has posted a 2.78 GAA in losing his last four starts to the Sharks, including 4-1 in San Jose on Dec. 23.
Phoenix is 3-8-2 in its last 13 games at HP Pavilion.