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Coyotes migrate west for fishing trip

The Arizona Coyotes hope to put a 3-1 defeat against the Dallas Stars behind them as they play the San Jose Sharks for the first of two back-to-back California games.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes will travel to the SAP Center in San Jose to take on the Sharks Saturday. The game comes days after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Stars. That game saw the Coyotes hang tough in every statistical column except the one that decides the winner. Saturday night's matchup is the first of five contests throughout the season between the two Pacific Division rivals.

Matchup at a Glance

Arizona Coyotes (8-10-2) San Jose Sharks (10-9-3)
Points (Standing) 18 (6th Pacific) 23 (5th Pacific)
Goals per game 2.4 (25th) 2.6 (20th)
Goals against per game 3.1 (23rd) 2.6 (14th)
Power play percentage 19.7 (12th) 23.5 (5th)
Penalty kill percentage 78.8 (20th) 83.8 (10th)
Fenwick 5v5 close percentage 45.7 (26th) 51.3 (13th)
PDO 97.2 (27th) 98.1 (26th)

View from Arizona

Injuries and inconsistent play have the Coyotes in a hole almost one-fourth of the way through the NHL season. Not that the season hasn't gone according to plan, but Arizona is simply running out of time to establish their identity and entrench themselves as a true playoff contender. 5-4-1 in the month of November is encouraging moving forward, but the 3-5-1 October has still created quite the deficit. Dave Tippett's work is cut out for him moving forward.

Arizona wasn't particularly outmatched by the Stars on Thursday; as a matter of fact, they led the game for a good portion before collapsing in the third period. Mike Smith and the Desert Dogs gave up three goals including two in the first minute of the final period. Arizona peppered their fair share of shots at Dallas' Kari Lehtonen and caused a good number of turnovers over the course of the game, but simply couldn't capitalize on their chances. The tilt against San Jose Saturday night is the first of a back-to-back California road trip for the Coyotes.

View from San Jose

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San Jose is one of those teams along with Anaheim and Los Angeles that experts often choose for success in the regular season and beyond. They have star talent to spare, veteran presence and above average goaltending. They started the season well on their way, but have since been underwhelming, with a 4-5-1 record in the month of November.

Most recently, the Sharks dropped a close one Thursday to the Florida Panthers, losing 3-2 with respect to the skills competition. Nick Bjugstad had an unofficial hat trick for the Panthers with two in regulation and the overtime winner. Patrick Marleau had a goal and assist and Antti Niemi stopped 26 of 28 shots in the losing effort. They will be looking to avoid a three game losing streak when they host the Coyotes.

Keys to the Game

Youth Movement - The numbers don't suggest that elder statesmen Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are losing a step, but Arizona has enough young fast skaters that it is starting to become an asset for the organization. Let guys like Mikkel BoedkerLucas Lessio and Tobias Rieder space the ice and do their thing.

Use Depth - The top-groupings for San Jose is where the meat and potatoes of their production comes from. Third and fourth liners are just that for a reason, but Arizona may have a distinct advantage in that area. Secondary scoring could be the difference.

Play Smart -San Jose's stars don't need much help to put up some numbers and light up the lamp. Turnovers are bad in any game, but consider them doubly bad in this game with so many players who can punish them.

Who's Hot

Sam Gagner continues to find that stat sheet; he has assists in back-to-back games and four points in his last four games.

For the Sharks, Joe Thornton enters Saturday's contest on an eight game point streak. In that span, he has four goals and five assists.

Injury Report

Backup goaltender Alex Stalock (knee), winger Mike Brown (hand) and former Coyote Raffi Torres (knee) are all on injured reserve for the Sharks.

For the Coyotes, Martin Hanzal is listed as questionable after missing the last two games with a lower body injury. Brandon Gormley was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with an undisclosed injury and Dave Moss is still on IR with an upper body injury.

Puck Drop

Puck will drop 8:30 PM Arizona time at the SAP Center in San Jose. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona as well as over the airwaves on 92.3 FM.