The Arizona Coyotes are hitting their stride and try to extend their season-best winning streak to four games when they begin a three-game homestand by hosting the struggling San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. After a 1-12-1 start, Arizona is 4-3-2 in its last nine contests after completing a 3-1-0 road trip by snapping Toronto’s six-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory Monday, but still has the fewest points in the NHL (13).
“Last seven, eight games have been really good,‘’ Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta told reporters after making 27 saves Monday. ”Now everybody knows what they’re doing, everybody trusts the system, everybody’s working hard and learning all the time, so now when you get a couple wins, you get your confidence going and it’s so much easier to work hard when you have good confidence.“ San Jose completed a 0-2-1 homestand with a 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim on Monday as it continues to struggle offensively with an NHL-low 46 goals. Joonas Donskoi, though, is doing his part with two goals Monday, giving him seven this season and four in eight November games after recording six tallies and 17 points in 61 contests last season. ”After last year, I’m really looking to bounce back,” Donskoi, who had 11 goals and 36 points as a rookie in 2015-16, told reporters. “... I’m just trying to play my best.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN California (San Jose), FSN Arizona Plus
ABOUT SHARKS (10-8-1): Logan Couture has team highs of 10 goals and 16 points, but scored in only one of the last nine games (two versus Vancouver on Nov. 11). Donskoi replaced Melker Karlsson (day-to-day with an upper-body injury) on the second line Monday, joining Couture and Tomas Hertl (11 points). Brent Burns, the reigning Norris Trophy winner who netted 29 goals in 2016-17 and 27 the year before, hasn’t scored this season and owns seven assists in 19 games while a team-worst minus-7.
ABOUT COYOTES (5-15-3): Rookie center Clayton Keller has produced three assists in the last three games but hasn’t added to his team-leading 11 goals in the past seven contests. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (club-worst minus-15) has a goal and two assists in his last three games to raise his point total to 14 -second on the team to Keller’s 20. Arizona received a boost Monday from the return of defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who recorded an assist and was a plus-2 in 19 minutes, 41 seconds of ice time after missing 10 games because of an upper-body injury.
1. San Jose C Joe Pavelski (299 career goals) hasn’t scored in seven games after tallying in consecutive contests.
2. The Coyotes are 5-for-12 on the power play over their last three games while the Sharks have killed all four penalties during that span and are 20-for-22 in their past nine contests.
3. Arizona won three of the five meetings last season, including two of the three games decided after regulation, with the Sharks’ 4-1 road victory the only one not decided by one goal.
PREDICTION: Sharks 3, Coyotes 2