#64 Arizona Coyotesvs.#63 San Jose Sharks
Written by Valdis Pans
San Jose Sharks (34-18-5-1) vs. Arizona Coyotes (20-29-6-1)
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, February 18, 2017
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona
Lines: San Jose -185 / Arizona +160
After grabbing a win in Anaheim, the Arizona Coyotes (7th in Pacific Division) will be keen to scalp another one of their division foes while hosting the San Jose Sharks (1st in Pacific), who have registered just one win in their past six games…
The San Jose Sharks (34-18-6) were dealt their fifth defeat in the past six contests (1-1-4) when the visiting Florida Panthers got away with a 6-5 overtime victory at SAP Center on Wednesday in what was probably the most entertaining hockey game of the week. San Jose came back from two goals down twice during the evening, with Joe Pavelski (20 goals, 52 points for the season) scoring a double in a matter of two-and-a-half minutes to tie the game 5-5 in the dying moments of regulation. Brent Burns (25 goals, 61 points), Joel Ward (7 goals, 23 points) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (4 goals, 20 points) were also on the score-sheet for the Sharks, who lost the game 1:38 minutes into overtime.
Martin Jones made just 16 saves on 22 shots, taking his season performance tally to 28-15-5 with a 2.35 GAA. He has gone 5-2-2 in previous contests against the Arizona Coyotes with an excellent 1.44 career GAA. The Sharks are currently 7th in the league with 74 points from 58 games, ahead of the Anaheim Ducks at the top of the Pacific Division by four points. They are scoring the 14th highest quantity of goals per game (2.74), conceding the 3rd lowest amount on the defensive end (2.41). San Jose has the 8th worst power play crew with a 16.8% success rate and ranks 14th in penalty kill with 81.5% expertise.
The Arizona Coyotes (20-29-7) took full advantage of a team, which was returning from the five-day obligatory break more rusty rather than charged-up, when they faced the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Thursday. The Coyotes, who entered the contest being just one of the three teams out of 12 which actually won their first game after the bye week, channeled confidence during the 5-3 victory. The visitors were already two goals up in the first period just after three shots, with Brendan Perlini (10 goals, 14 points for the year) and Tobias Rieder (13 goals, 23 points) providing the strikes. The Kings ultimately outshot the Coyotes by a double (44-22), yet both teams managed another three goals each in the third period later on, with Perlini scoring his second of the night and Jordan Martinook (10 goals, 21 points) netting twice as well.
Mike Smith made 41 saves and has now gone 7-0-3 when facing 40 or more shots during a game this season. He is 15-15-6 for the whole current campaign with a 2.84 GAA and has gone 12-7-3 against the San Jose Sharks previously with a 2.08 career GAA. The Coyotes are still sitting 2nd from the bottom of the NHL table with just 47 points from 56 games, trailing the playoff crowd in the Western Conference by 14 points with two fixtures in hand. They are 4th in least goals scored per game (2.34), 4th in most goals allowed on average (3.14), 6th worst in power play with a lowly 15.9% success rate and 5th worst in penalty kill with 77.1% efficiency.
You wouldn’t pick the Coyotes in any of their matchups against the Sharks this term, yet their head-to-head season series has gone Arizona’s way all the way, with the ‘Yotes holding a 3-0-1 edge over San Jose already. The Sharks have struggled lately away at the Coyotes, winning just one outing from their last five meetings in Arizona (1-3-1). They haven’t been playing all that confidently either during the past week or two, while the ‘Yotes have been bossing bigger teams (the Kings, the Penguins, the Flames) about like they are actually competing for the playoffs. They are not, of course. Nevertheless, the Coyotes have a good run of form going on at the moment…
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Valdis got his first ever article published when he was 13, and has rarely stopped. He has worked for FHM, MTV Baltics and has done loads of freelance (from columns for Cosmopolitan magazine to helping with organization of Macy Gray’s shows in the Northern Europe). Speaks five different languages, loves pizza, American Horror Story and pipe organ music, and knows European soccer better than dates of his family members’ birthdays. Is an avid fan of ice-hockey too. He is a Latvian after all...