SAN JOSE The Sharks dominant performance in their first game of a season a 6-3 win over Phoenix, which wasnt as close as the score would indicate may have had an adverse effect for San Jose in the head-to-head games since.
At least, thats how Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett sees it. His club has beaten the Sharks in all three games since then by a combined 11-3 score.
After the first game of the year when we got dominated, I think our guys really tried to hunker down, he said on Saturday at HP Pavilion, where his team will try for its fourth in a row over San Jose. You cant give away a lot of free chances. If you give them a lot of extra time in your zone or give them outnumbered rushes theyre going to hurt you. We have to make sure we play a sound game.
Defenseman Keith Yandle said: I think any time you play San Jose you have to do a good job of shutting down their big guys, with Marleau, Thornton, Pavelksi, Couture, Clowe. You go down that whole lineup and theyve got a lot of big guns, and thats just in the front. The D are great, too. Weve got to do a good job of not letting them get opportunities, or if they do get an opportunity, just limit it to one.
The Coyotes are led by the ageless wonder, Ray Whitney, who, at 39 years old, is tied for 13th in the NHL in scoring with 70 points. The former Shark has found the scoresheet in 23 of his last 27 games overall.
Listening to Tippett talk about Whitney, it becomes obvious just how much the veteran coach thinks of him.
Hes got a passion to play the game still, which is unbelievable, Tippett said. A lot of players when they get to that age they lose some of that passion, Ray loves coming to the rink and playing every day. Thats first and foremost.
Secondly, hes just a really smart player with high skill. When he finds opportunities to have an impact in the game he can make those plays happen. Thats been the biggest thing for us this year. Not just the 70 points, the ability hes had to create and do things at very meaningful times that allow us to win. Hes done it all year for us, and he continues to do it.
Dallas gets key win: The Stars took over the Pacific Division lead with a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames early on Saturday. Dallas has 87 points one more than Los Angeles and Phoenix, and three more than the Sharks.
The Flames, meanwhile, may be out of the race. They are in 11th place with 83 points and just six games remaining.
The Kings host Boston on Saturday night, while Colorado, in ninth place with 85 points, is home against Vancouver.