Today on FOX Sports Arizona: Coyotes at Sharks, 8:15 p.m.
By NOEY KUPCHAN
After three consecutive wins, the San Jose Sharks are on the verge of their longest winning streak of the season - due in large part to one of their youngest players.
Looking for a fifth straight win over the Phoenix Coyotes, Logan Couture and the Sharks will try to extend their overall run to a season-best four games as the Pacific Division rivals meet for the first time this season Thursday night at HP Pavilion.
The 21-year-old rookie extended his point streak to three games with his team-leading 18th goal in Tuesday night's 2-1 victory versus Edmonton.
"You can say he's been our best player this year," Dan Boyle said of Couture, who has four goals in his last three games. "It's not just what he does in the offensive zone, but the way he helps out in the defensive zone. He's really grown and matured - the kid's a great player.
Boyle contributed a goal of his own to set a franchise record for most power-play goals by a defensemen with 17.
Antero Niittymaki has been in goal for all three games during San Jose's streak, posting a 1.66 goals-against average. He made 26 saves versus the Oilers to improve to 6-2-2 at home.
Niittymaki lost 2-1 in his only start against Phoenix while with Tampa Bay on March 16. Antti Niemi, meanwhile, went 1-0-1 against the Coyotes while with Chicago, posting a 28-save shutout in his previous meeting with them March 23.
The Sharks have scored with the man advantage in four straight games, their longest run since registering power-play goals in their first six games this season.
San Jose went 0-1-1 against the Coyotes in 2009-10 before taking four in a row and has gone 9-1-2 in its previous 12 home games against them.
Phoenix (15-10-7), which played without No. 1 goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (upper-body injury) for the third straight game, is coming off its most lopsided defeat of the season -- falling 6-1 in Pittsburgh on Monday night.
The loss dropped the Coyotes to 1-2-1 on their current six-game trip, over which they have allowed a total of six power-play goals.
"We're disappointed but we're realistic in that we feel we got what we deserved (on the trip)," general manager Don Maloney told the team's official site.
"We are making big mistakes with the puck - at certain times of the game - that are ending up in the back of our net, and the penalties we've been taking have gotten us off our rhythm that we need to have."
Jason LaBarbera allowed five goals on 22 shots before he was replaced in the second period by Matt Climie, who stopped 15 of 16 shots.
"This is unacceptable for our group," coach Dave Tippett said. "We will address some of the issues we have. This is not who we are, this is not who we are going to be, and we will do whatever we can to fix it."
LaBarbera, who is expected to start versus the Sharks, is 3-2-0 with a 1.77 GAA lifetime in San Jose.
The Coyotes placed Taylor Pyatt on injured reserve Wednesday after he was hurt during a fight Monday night. Pyatt has seven goals and three assists.
Updated December 22, 2010