The Sharks and Coyotes have built some momentum heading into the playoffs - and possibly a second-round encounter - but only one can keep it going when the clubs close the regular season Saturday night in San Jose.
The Sharks (50-20-11) have won the last three meetings and can become the only Western Conference team to win the season series against Phoenix (50-25-6).
San Jose, 7-0-1 in its last eight home games, has won a third consecutive division title and is battling Chicago for the top seed in the West.
“We still have something to play for,” said Joe Pavelski(notes), who has scored twice in three games to match a career high with 25 goals. “This is what you play all year for. You want to step up and play and be ready. It’s an exciting time of year for us.”
While San Jose is on a 7-1-1 surge, Phoenix has won three in a row and has assured itself of a second-place finish in the Pacific. The Coyotes have set franchise records for points and victories en route to their first playoff berth since 2002, when they lost in the first round to the Sharks.
Evgeni Nabokov(notes) held Phoenix to seven goals in that five-game series and has continued to dominate the Coyotes. He’s 12-2-2 with a 1.74 goals-against average in his last 18 games against them, allowing three goals in three matchups this season.
Bryzgalov is 2-0-2 with a 1.18 GAA in this season series. LaBarbera has allowed two goals in each of his last four starts but lost his only matchup with San Jose this season.
Whoever is in net for Phoenix would like to see Shane Doan(notes) and Radim Vrbata(notes) produce. Doan leads the team with 54 points but has one in the last six games, and Vrbata tops the team with 24 goals but has one - and no assists - in the past eight.
Plus, the Coyotes are scoreless in their last 20 power-play opportunities and are last in the West with a 14.6 percent success rate.
Phoenix is 1 for 28 with the man advantage in five meetings with San Jose.
The Sharks have given up a power-play goal in seven consecutive games, but they also have one of the league’s best power plays at 21.2 percent. Dany Heatley(notes) leads Western players with 18 power-play goals and needs one goal to post his fifth season with at least 40, but he’s gone six straight games without one.
Patrick Marleau(notes) has set a career high with 43 goals but would need four points to match his personal best of 86 - he has two in the last six games. Joe Thornton(notes) is two shy of his fifth 90-point season.