Sharks-Coyotes Preview

The Associated Press

The Phoenix Coyotes are struggling to find goals, are without their captain and now have one of the league's highest scoring teams coming to town.

The San Jose Sharks have fared just fine in two games so far without rookie sensation Tomas Hertl.

These Pacific Division rivals meet Friday night, and it's not clear if the Coyotes will again be without Shane Doan against the visiting Sharks.

Doan has been out since Dec. 4 due to an illness although he has reportedly been doing better. There is no word on when the player tied with Antoine Vermette for the team lead with 12 goals will be back.

Phoenix (19-10-7) is 1-2-2 in its last five games, scoring one goal in all of the defeats. The Coyotes fell 2-1 on Monday at Buffalo on a bizarre goal in which goalie Mike Smith had the puck in his jersey and carried it across the line in overtime.

Coach Dave Tippett wasn't happy with his team's effort despite a 37-32 edge in shots.

''The game is an honest game,'' said Tippett during a terse press conference. ''If you're supposed to win, usually you can win. And we didn't deserve to win tonight, so those things happen.''

Hertl scored his first two NHL goals in a 4-1 victory over Phoenix on Oct. 5, but he is set for right knee surgery and out indefinitely. The winger has 15 goals among his 25 points.

San Jose (23-8-6) has posted back-to-back home shootout wins without him, 3-2 over Dallas on Saturday and 5-4 over Colorado on Monday.

The Sharks nearly came up empty against the Avalanche as they blew a lead with two minutes left in regulation by yielding two goals in a 12-second span. Joe Pavelski tied it with 20 seconds to go before San Jose converted twice in the shootout.

San Jose ended a 0-for-12 drought on the power play by scoring twice in four chances Monday. Unheralded Jason Demers and Matt Irwin each came through with their first power-play goals of the season as coach Todd McLellan shook up his combinations with the man advantage.

"I haven't felt that we've had a competitive set of power plays and what I mean by that is two groups that can fight for the ice time," McLellan said. "It was just every time that the power play came, a group of players would stand up and go out and whether they got it done or not, the next group would go out and we just got in a rut.

"Now they don't know who's starting. Now they all want that time and if one group is more productive than the other, they'll get it."

This is the first 2013-14 meeting in Phoenix, where the Coyotes are third in the league on the power play at 25.5 percent.

The Sharks have dropped five of their last six in Arizona. Smith has won all four home starts against San Jose with Phoenix, posting a 1.00 goals-against average with two shutouts.

San Jose is 3 for 10 on the power play in the two games in the season series, which includes a 3-2 overtime loss Nov. 2.

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