The Arizona Coyotes finally have a chance to build on their first victory of December.
Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks likely are to be without some key contributors while trying to momentarily halt their struggles.
In a position to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season, the visiting Coyotes also can hand the Sharks a third straight defeat on Tuesday night.
Back from a COVID-19-related break stoppage that shut down NHL play for nearly a week, Arizona and San Jose will resume what has been a disappointing season. The Coyotes have had four games postponed since Dec. 19, while the Sharks have had three washed out since Dec. 21.
Arizona has a league-low six wins and 14 points but snapped a six-game slide with a 6-5 overtime victory on Dec. 17. Clayton Keller scored twice, including 2:09 into overtime, and added an assist for the Coyotes, who won for the first time in six December tries.
The only other time Arizona won consecutive games this season came on Nov. 20-21.
“As a coach, it’s your job to make sure you’ll be better next game,” coach Andre Tourigny told the Coyotes’ official website.
“We showed a lot of character (against the Ducks). … There were a lot of positives.”
Keller has been one of the Coyotes’ few bright spots, leading the team in goals (nine) and points (22). He’s recorded 16 points over his past 14 contests.
The Coyotes, however, still have trouble keeping the puck out of their own net. Their 109 goals-against are tied with Montreal for the most in the NHL, with 32 conceded over the past seven games.
Scott Wedgewood (3.10 goals-against average) made 32 saves vs. Anaheim to snap his team’s six-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Arizona rookie Karel Vejmelka (3.28 GAA) has allowed 12 goals in losing two starts following a 46-save shutout against Winnipeg on Nov. 29.
This will be Arizona’s first 2021-22 meeting with San Jose, which has lost five of seven and is dealing with some important personnel in COVID-19 protocol. Though star defenseman Brent Burns could be cleared for this contest, San Jose is likely to be minus Tomas Hertl — the team leader with 14 goals — and Jonathan Dahlen (14 points).
“We’ve got to figure out what the pieces look like, and knock on wood, hopefully, no one else (tests positive),” Sharks coach Bob Boughner told the San Jose Mercury News.
“I think every coach is going through this. You can’t plan for the next day until you get there.”
The Sharks last played on Dec. 16, losing 5-2 at home to Vancouver. San Jose is 7-7-1 at home, where it’s managed just seven goals while losing three of its past four there.
The Sharks’ Timo Meier, however, recorded his 100th career goal on Dec. 16. Just nine of his 29 points have come in 12 home games this season.
San Jose’s James Reimer ranks among the NHL leaders with a 1.99 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. He has stopped 122 of 127 shots over his past four starts.
–Field Level Media