Coyotes trying for fourth straight win over Sharks

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Coyotes trying for fourth straight win over Sharks

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.

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.