Sharks-Coyotes Preview

While improved offensive play has keyed the San Jose Sharks' rise in the standings, the Arizona Coyotes' scoring drought has become a concern.

Though their winning streak has ended, the visiting Sharks still have a chance to stretch their point streak to a season-high seven Thursday night in a battle between two of the three teams tied for second in the Pacific Division.

San Jose (23-18-3) had averaged 2.7 goals per game before its current 5-0-1 stretch in which it has found the net 24 times. It hasn't earned a point in seven straight games since an eight-game run in March 2014.

The Sharks were on the verge of extending their five-game winning streak until they pulled down Ottawa's Jack Smith on a breakaway with 5:31 remaining in regulation of Monday's 4-3 shootout defeat. Smith converted the tying penalty shot, which stood after officials went to replay to see if the puck stopped moving forward before he took the shot.

"We have been playing great lately," Matt Nieto, who put San Jose ahead earlier, told the team's official website. "We'll take the point and move on."

Logan Couture scored his second goal in nine games since returning from a right leg injury and Joe Thornton added his 14th assist over his last 14. Tomas Hertl has scored in two straight games, giving him four goals and seven points in the past six. He has four in eight meetings with the Coyotes.

Couture had his five-game point streak in the series snapped in a 5-3 road loss April 4 in the most recent matchup. San Jose, which is tied with Arizona and Vancouver and 12 points behind Los Angeles, had gone 9-1-3 over the previous 13 meetings.

The Coyotes are having a much more difficult time scoring. They've totaled three goals over an 0-2-1 stretch after averaging 3.6 over their prior seven.

Antoine Vermette's goal with 11:56 remaining ended a scoreless drought of more than six periods in Monday's 2-1 home loss to Buffalo. Shane Doan has only tallied one of his team-high 16 goals over the last six games.

"We're a little bit off on our shooting and a lot of our shots are getting blocked," coach Dave Tippett said. "These are tight games and the second half gets tighter - people are scrambling for points and we're no different."

Arizona (22-18-5) has come up empty on its 10 power-play opportunities over the past two games after going 14 for 39 in its previous 10. The club also has allowed opponents to go 6 for 11 in those situations in its past four.

Joe Pavelski has a team-high seven power-play goals for a San Jose team that ranks near the top of the NHL by converting 21.2 percent of its chances. The Sharks, however, have let opponents score on 5 of 11 power plays in their last five games.

They're expected to face Louis Domingue, who hopes to rebound from his first regulation defeat in 11 starts since taking over for the injured Mike Smith. He's 7-1-3 with a .936 save percentage as a starter.

San Jose's Martin Jones will likely get an opportunity to win his fifth straight start after posting a 1.95 goals-against average over his last four. While with the Kings, he had 26 saves in a 4-0 win Dec. 4, 2014, in his only career start in Phoenix.


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