Coyotes face Sharks, seek to beat team other than a recent champion

Dec 15, 2023, 6:30 AM

Mackenzie Blackwood #29 of the San Jose Sharks stops Gabriel Vilardi #13 of the Winnipeg Jets from ...

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 12: Mackenzie Blackwood #29 of the San Jose Sharks stops Gabriel Vilardi #13 of the Winnipeg Jets from scoring in the third period at SAP Center on December 12, 2023 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The San Jose Sharks won’t feel any sympathy for the Arizona Coyotes when the teams meet Friday night in Tempe, Ariz.

The Coyotes have lost a season-high four straight games, blunting a five-game winning streak in which they knocked off the past six Stanley Cup champions.

The Sharks certainly are familiar with long-losing streaks after dropping their first 11 games this season. San Jose also has shown how quickly momentum can swing, as the Sharks have won three of their past four and six of nine.

“We’ve been building towards this for a while,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “We’ve really had two seasons. We had the start, and then ever since then we’ve turned things around. I give our players and our leadership group a ton of credit. Slowly digging ourselves out of a hole.”

The Sharks most recently beat the visiting Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Tuesday night, getting a go-ahead goal by William Eklund with just under five minutes left.

Eklund, the seventh overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, has seven goals for the season after combining for two goals in 17 games over the past two seasons.

“I want to add that to my game even more,” Eklund said. “I want to be a scoring threat out there, too.”

Justin Bailey scored the other goal for San Jose, his first since March 2018, when he played for the Buffalo Sabres.

“It’s definitely been a minute,” Bailey said. “Like I said before, it’s been a couple of surgeries, COVID, and stuff like that. It’s obviously been awhile, but there was a lot of raw emotion in that celebration there.”

The Coyotes are coming off a 4-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, wrapping up a winless three-game trip.

Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said the effort against the Penguins was an improvement over the 5-2 loss to the Sabres a night earlier.

“We won way more battles,” Tourigny said.

Lawson Crouse had a goal and assist against the Penguins to give him 13 goals this season, more than halfway to the career-high 24 he scored last season in his seventh year with Arizona.

Michael Carcone didn’t have a goal against the Penguins, but he scored in the other two games on the trip and leads the Coyotes with 14 goals for the season. He had combined for six goals in 30 games over the previous two seasons with Arizona.

Tourigny said he’d like to see the Coyotes send more pucks toward the opponent’s net, something that didn’t happen enough against Pittsburgh.

“We could’ve gone with more volume,” he said. “There are things I would like to do differently, but the effort was definitely there.”

Arizona has been without one of its top defenseman, Sean Durzi, for the past two games with a lower-body injury, but there’s a chance he could return against the Sharks.

Durzi initially sustained the injury in a 6-0 win against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 4. He sat out the next game, a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and then tried to play through the injury in a 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins.

–Field Level Media

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