Sharks vs. Coyotes Preview
PHOENIX, AZ (AP) - After finishing first in the Western Conference in back-to-back seasons, the San Jose Sharks find themselves in an unfamiliar position. Following a much-needed victory, they'll look for their momentum to carry over against the surging Phoenix Coyotes.View Current San Jose Sharks Odds
The Sharks will try for a sixth consecutive win over the Coyotes when the teams meet for a matinee matchup at Jobing.com Arena on Monday.
San Jose (22-19-5) - tied with Los Angeles at the bottom of the Pacific Division - defeated St. Louis 4-2 on Saturday night to snap its season-worst six-game losing streak.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGlobal.com have made the Coyotes -120 money line favorites for Monday's game against the Sharks. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 95% of more than 60 bets for this game have been placed on the Sharks +111.
While coach Todd McLellan was pleased to end the team's longest stretch without a point since the 1995-96 season, he knows there's still ground to make up if San Jose hopes to make a seventh consecutive postseason appearance.
"This can't just be a one-night thing when we stop a losing streak," McLellan said. "This has to be an every-night thing. If we can bottle it up and keep playing that way, it doesn't guarantee us wins every night, but we have a chance."
The Sharks averaged 1.3 goals during their skid and the four goals versus the Blues matched their total from the previous three games.
Dany Heatley, who is tied with captain Joe Thornton for the team lead with 41 points, tallied two goals Saturday after scoring one in his previous 14 games. Thornton registered a goal and an assist in the win and has recorded two points in three consecutive contests.
"Everyone can now exhale a little bit," said Thornton, who had a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win over Phoenix on Dec. 23. "We still have to work hard. This doesn't stop here. We have to build off of this. Hopefully some guys get confidence from this win."
Antti Niemi, who made 28 saves to end a personal four-game skid, is 2-0-0 with a 0.50 goals-against average in his last two games against Phoenix, including a 2-0 victory March 23 while with Chicago.
San Jose has held the Coyotes to an average of 1.6 goals during its five-game winning streak in the series - with three of the wins coming in shootouts - but it could have trouble slowing them down this time around.
Phoenix (23-13-9) matched its highest scoring output of the season in a 6-2 win over Anaheim on Saturday night thanks to another impressive performance from Ray Whitney.
Whitney extended his points streak to a season-best three games with two goals and an assist as he surpassed 900 points for his career.
"He's smart," coach Dave Tippett said. "He does things that are smart on the ice and that allows him to use his talents to his greatest advantage."
The Coyotes are averaging 4.8 goals during their four-game winning streak - 1.9 more than their season mark - and they haven't lost in regulation in 2011, going 6-0-2.
"We're not just scoring some goals but we're scoring some nice goals," said Tippett.
While the offense continues to click, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has also been playing well.
After losing seven of 10, Bryzgalov is 4-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA in his last four starts. He had won five straight decisions at home versus San Jose before falling 3-2 in a shootout Dec. 31, 2009.
The status of Sharks forward Ryane Clowe is unclear after his consecutive games streak was snapped at 129 on Saturday due to a leg injury.