Coyotes out to spice up playoff credentials vs. Sharks

NHL Hockey

The San Jose Sharks are desperate to get back into the win column as they prepare to host the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night.

The Coyotes, meantime, are just as desperately clinging to the final playoff spot in the West Division, and need victories to maintain their edge on the St. Louis Blues.

Monday’s game will be the fifth meeting of the season between the Coyotes (21-22-5, 47 points) and the Sharks (18-24-5, 41 points). Arizona is 3-0-1 in the season series with four games remaining between the teams.

San Jose has now dropped eight consecutive contests, including Saturday night’s 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild. The Sharks went into a 1-0 hole 19 seconds into the game after Martin Jones gave scored on the Wild’s first shot of the game. Jones was replaced with Josef Korenar after giving up three goals on eight shots in the first 20 minutes.

Minnesota scored twice on Korenar over the final two periods and buried an empty-net goal late in the game.

Despite rallying in the third period to put three goals of their own on the board, the Sharks know they can’t be content with putting up a fight for small portions of games.

“We’ve been falling behind by one, two, three pretty quickly,” San Jose captain Logan Couture said. “You can’t wait and only play 20 minutes, and that’s what we did tonight – only played 20 minutes the right way.”

Said Sharks coach Bob Boughner: “The start was a disaster. Right from the first shift, the first goal, we’re fighting for our lives. And to be down 1-0 on the first shot of the game is a horrible goal.

“I think it took some wind out of our sails, but that’s an excuse as well,” Boughner said. “You have to be able to rebound. You’ve got 59 more minutes to play, and I don’t think we did a good job of coming back from that adversity.”

It is not yet clear which goalie he will tap to start Monday night as the Sharks try to keep their playoff hopes on life support.

The Coyotes, on the other hand, are heading into Monday night’s matchup after snapping their own losing skid and shutting out the Los Angeles Kings 4-0. They had entered with only one win in their past eight games and had just been outscored 9-3 over a two-game set with the Wild.

Arizona responded against Los Angeles with a two-point game from Phil Kessel, while Darcy Kuemper made 26 saves for his second shutout of the season.

“Everybody kind of showed up tonight, and we’re going to need that every night,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. “We’re going to need everybody playing like that. You don’t need anybody playing great or spectacular. We just need everybody to play a good, solid game, and I thought we got that tonight.”

The Coyotes are looking for any extra boost they can get with a one-point lead on the fifth-place St. Louis Blues. Adding to their concern is that the Blues still have three games in hand.

“If you see (another) team lose, it gives you juice,” Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski said. “And if you see them win, you’ve got to win. Anything you can do to get that chip on your shoulder or that extra motivation, that’s valuable.”

–Field Level Media

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