The surprising Coyotes get another chance to tighten the division race Monday night when they visit the Sharks.
Phoenix (24-13-2) might be the biggest surprise in the NHL after failing to reach the playoffs for six seasons in a row. The team is second in the Pacific, three points back of first-place San Jose (23-8-7), which won the division by 26 points and claimed its first Presidents’ Trophy last season.
The Coyotes’ revival has been aided by a nine-game home winning streak that includes Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Los Angeles. The surge matches a franchise record set in 1992-93, when the team was the Winnipeg Jets.
Phoenix, however, is 9-8-2 on the road, winning four of the last 12 (4-6-2).
“We feel that if we play the way we’re capable of playing we can beat anybody and that’s a great feeling to have,” captain Shane Doan(notes) said. “We feel that it doesn’t matter what building we go in to, where we’re playing or who we’re playing. If we play our best game we can win.”
He stopped 37 shots in a 2-1 home win Dec. 12 after making 26 saves in 1-0 shootout victory at San Jose on Oct. 12. That remains the only game in which the Sharks have been shut out this season.
Bryzgalov, who made 23 saves Saturday, is among the league leaders in wins (22), goals-against average (2.02), shutouts (five) and save percentage (.926). He has a 1.44 GAA in nine career games at San Jose.
The Sharks, who lead the Western Conference with 127 goals, will try to solve Bryzgalov and win their fifth straight after beating Anaheim 5-2 on Saturday behind two goals from Patrick Marleau(notes).
They were the 300th and 301st career goals for Marleau, who has five goals and two assists in the last four games.
Marleau is among the league leaders with 25 goals and teammate Dany Heatley(notes) is not far behind with 23. Heatley has seven points in his last five games overall and has netted four goals in his last five games against Phoenix. Marleau, on the other hand, has been held to one goal in his past 18 games versus the Coyotes.
One of his two shutouts this season came in a 30-save performance against Phoenix on Oct. 12, but he took the loss after giving up goals on two of three shootout attempts.