The Arizona Coyotes can pack a lot lighter when they visit the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
The Coyotes will be gone for just one night after enduring a 14-game road trip that stretched from Nov. 5 to Dec. 7. Arizona also opened the season with six straight road games.
The short flight to San Jose was likely an enjoyable one after the Coyotes won back-to-back home games against the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Arizona beat Boston 4-3 on Friday to end a 19-game losing streak against the Bruins and spoil their three-game road trip that was bookended by wins over the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, two of the top teams in the Western Conference.
“We went after them and really competed,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “That was a good win for our team.”
Arizona returned to the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena and knocked off the Flyers 5-4 in overtime on Sunday.
Keller scored 22.4 seconds into overtime to secure his first NHL hat trick. He also extended his point streak to seven games.
Keller has 26 points in 26 games, the most points by a Coyote in that span since Shane Doan had 26 points during the 2008-09 season.
“He is playing way different than at the start of the season,” Tourigny said of Keller. “He’s playing with more pace. Now he has more speed. He is putting more pucks at the net. He goes in the dirty area way more. His game is now back at what it was last year.”
San Jose was able to enjoy a nice weekend at home after beating the Anaheim Ducks 6-1 on Friday night in what some considered their best all-around performance of the season.
“We found a balance of recognizing when the offense was presented to us and when not to force it,” San Jose coach David Quinn said. “It’s probably as good a job as we’ve done all year long in that area.”
The Sharks are expected to have goalie James Reimer back after he sustained an undisclosed injury in a 5-2 loss against the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 25.
With Reimer set to return, the Sharks could have a tough decision on which goalie to send down to San Jose of the American Hockey League.
Eetu Makiniemi made his first NHL start against the Ducks and stopped 23 of 24 shots.
Makiniemi had made his NHL debut on Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks in relief of Kaapo Kahkonen, who had surrendered four goals on 19 shots. Makiniemi stopped six of eight shots in the eventual 6-5 overtime loss.
Whomever’s in goal, the Sharks hope to continue supplying him with plenty of wiggle room. They’ve scored 11 goals in the past two games after scoring just 10 in the previous four.
“Hopefully we can string a few together and not just have one here and there,” San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson said.
Sharks captain Logan Couture did not practice on Sunday after blocking a shot with the side of his foot on Friday against the Ducks but returned to practice on Monday.
–Field Level Media