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Coyotes Game 77 Preview: Coyotes host the Sharks in second game of back-to-back

Game Preview

Even Mullett Magic has its limits. The Arizona Coyotes hosted their Central Division rivals, the Dallas Stars, last night and lost 5-2. The Coyotes have at least been keeping things close, but not last night.
Things did not start well for the Desert Dogs, but they recovered. Joe Pavelski got the Stars on the board 83 seconds into regulation, but the Coyotes tied things up minutes later with a power play goal from Juuso Välimäki. Then, three-quarters of the way through the opening frame, Connor Mackey gave the Coyotes their only lead of the game with his third goal of the season.
After keeping things tight in the first 20, things completely fell apart for the Coyotes. The Coyotes outshot the Stars 9-8 and had a 2-1 lead after the first, but in the second period, the Stars outshot the Coyotes 11-4 and scored twice. That continued into the third period, with another two goals for the Stars while outshooting the Coyotes 12-5.
The Coyotes didn’t do themselves any favors with penalties, a recurring issue this season. Arizona took five penalties during the game, including three in the latter two periods. Jamie Benn scored on one of the Stars’ power plays, giving Dallas a two-goal lead early in the final frame.
The best thing you can say about the Coyotes’ performance, besides the rare power play goal, was that they got offense from their defense. Both goals came from the blue line, which is less common after trading Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakob Chychrun. Juuso Välimäki has done a lot, but the Coyotes need him, and everyone else, to do just a little bit more.
Unlike the Stars, who are at the top of their division, tonight’s opponents are on the lower end of the standings. The Sharks are the second-worst team in the Pacific, just one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks.
But that doesn’t mean the Sharks can’t string together a few wins. The Sharks dropped nine straight games in March but finished the month with a 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets and a 4-3 overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights last Thursday.
The Sharks may be bad, but they still have a few good players. Erik Karlsson continues to dominate the season, with 22 goals and 69 assists for 91 points in 75 games. He is leading the pack, but the Sharks have two other 20-goal scorers, Logan Couture (26 goals) and Tomáš Hertl (21 goals).
Unfortunately for the Sharks, they have problems in net. James Reimer and Kaapo Kähkönen have split their starts fairly evenly, 38 for Reimer and 33 for Kähkönen, and neither has been particularly good. Both average over three goals per game, and both have sub-.900 save percentages.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Clayton Keller – Keller extended his point streak to 14 games with a primary assist on Välimäki’s goal last night. He comes into tonight’s game with one assist against the Sharks this season.
San Jose: Logan Couture – The 34-year-old forward had the overtime goal for the Sharks and has two goals in his last three games. He has one assist in two games against the Coyotes this season.


Arizona: Laurent Dauphin (questionable, upper body), Zack Kassian (upper body), Jakub Voráček (concussion), Shea Weber (ankle), Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
San Jose: Matt Benning (questionable, lower body), Alexander Barabanov (questionable, lower body), Andreas Johnsson (lower body), Evgeny Svechnikov (lower body), Jonah Gadjovich (upper body), Luke Kunin (knee), Markus Nutivaara (lower body)

Puck Drop

Tonight’s game will be at 7:00 pm Arizona time and will air on Bally Sports Arizona Extra and on ESPN 620 AM.

Talking Points