|Sharks looks to end skid vs. lowly Coyotes|
Heading into the halfway point of the season, the San Jose Sharks hope a quick trip home can help them bounce back from arguably their worst stretch of games.
The Sharks will try to avoid a season-high fourth consecutive loss when they face the league-worst Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.
San Jose (21-13-6) returns to SAP Center after dropping four of five, including a 6-0 New Year's Eve loss to the Dallas Stars, a shootout setback to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 4 and blowing a three-goal lead going into the third before falling to the Ottawa Senators in overtime the next night.
"Overall, we're OK," coach Peter DeBoer told the Sharks' official website. "We're not perfect. We're not exactly where we want to be, but it could be worse."
DeBoer's club is 6-0-2 in its last eight at home with three wins coming via shutout. Martin Jones is 4-0-2 with a 1.93 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and two shutouts, while Aaron Dell won the other two games, stopping 61 of 65 shots with the other whitewash over that span.
San Jose posted a 3-1 win in Arizona on Jan. 22 behind 26 saves from Jones, and has not lost at home in regulation to the Coyotes since Nov. 12, 2011, going 9-0-4.
After struggling for the first quarter of the season, defenseman Brent Burns is playing like someone worthy of going to his fifth All-Star Game.
Burns has seven goals and 16 assists in his last 21 contests after logging just seven assists in his first 19 games. The 32-year-old has a seven-game points streak at home in which he's collected three goals and seven helpers.
Another player to watch is 38-year-old Joe Thornton, who continues to climb the league's career scoring list. Thornton has 1,418 points and needs three more to move past Adam Oates into 17th place. The top overall pick in the 1997 NHL Draft has three goals and seven assists in his last eight home games.
Though his club is slumping lately, Joe Pavelski said things aren't as bad as they seem for San Jose.
We're in a decent spot -- we've got a few games in-hand -- but you've got to win games," said the Sharks captain, whose 28 career goals against Arizona is his most against any team. "There's a lot of effort that went into those first 40 games -- guys competed -- and that's got to ramp up."
The Sharks might not have a better opponent to do that against than Arizona (10-28-6). The Coyotes lost for the fourth time in five games after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.
Playing their first game since Jan. 6, the Coyotes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 3:17 but couldn't build off the quick start.
"We beat ourselves. Same song and dance," said Arizona coach Rick Tocchet whose team is 1-21-6 when scoring two goals or fewer.
Additionally, the Coyotes are 0-6-1 in second games played on back-to-back nights, and 1-5-2 in their last eight on the road this season.
One of the few bright spots for Arizona is Clayton Keller. The forward and seventh overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft is third among rookies in scoring with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists). Only New York Rangers' Matthew Barzal (39 points) and Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks (40 points) have more.
Antti Raanta, who made 23 saves on Friday, is 6-12-3 despite a respectable 2.73 GAA and .915 save percentage. The native of Finland is 4-2-0 with a 2.18 GAA and .929 save percentage in his six road games.
After recording his second career shutout on Dec. 2, backup Scott Wedgewood has surrendered 18 goals in four losses. He has not seen any game action since yielding six goals in a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 28.