In the Crease: Sharks conclude regular season in Phoenix

McLellan: 'Hertl was better than I thought he would be'

In the Crease: Sharks conclude regular season in Phoenix
April 12, 2014, 11:15 am
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Phoenix was shut out in Nashville on Thursday, 2-0, and when Dallas beat St. Louis last night, the Coyotes’ playoff chances died. (AP IMAGES)

Programming note: Sharks-Coyotes coverage begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California Plus (Territory restrictions apply) Channel locations

Where they stand

Sharks: 50-22-9, 109 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Coyotes: 36-29-15, 87 points, 4th Pacific Division, 9th Western Conference

Playoff watch

The Sharks are locked into the second seed in the Pacific Division, and will host the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, beginning next week. Dates and times have yet to be announced by the NHL.

The Coyotes have been eliminated from playoff contention.

The latest

Sharks: In their final home game of the regular season, the Sharks skated to a 5-1 win over Colorado behind three goals and one assist by Marty Havlat. Logan Couture added three assists, and Alex Stalock stopped 32 Avalanche shots. San Jose finished 29-7-5 at SAP Center.

Coyotes: Phoenix was shut out in Nashville on Thursday, 2-0, and when Dallas beat St. Louis last night, the Coyotes’ playoff chances died. Phoenix has lost its last six games (0-3-3), all in front of former Sharks goalie Thomas Greiss, who has had to fill in for an injured Mike Smith.

[RELATED: Stalock making case to be Sharks' playoff starter]

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Marty Havlat. The forward responded from his removal from the lineup on Wednesday in Anaheim with his best game as a Shark on Friday against the Avalanche. Havlat is no lock to be in the lineup for the playoffs, but made his case for inclusion with his first hat trick -- a natural one, no less –- since 2005. Havlat’s four-point night was his first with the Sharks since he joined the club before the 2011-12 season.

Coyotes: Keith Yandle. The Coyotes’ defenseman leads the team with 53 points, including 32 at home, although he owns a team-worst -24 rating. Yandle sees plenty of time on the power play, and Phoenix enters with the best unit in the Western Conference at home at 23.0 percent. Yandle is one of four NHL defensemen to lead his team in scoring.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.91 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 2.36 (T - 5th)
Power play: 20.3 percent (4th)
Penalty kill: 84.9 percent (6th)

Coyotes
Goals per game: 2.58 (19th)
Goals-against per game: 2.75 (20th)
Power play: 20.1 percent (7th)
Penalty kill: 79.4 percent (26th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Marty Havlat
Tomas Hertl – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Bracken Kearns – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart – Justin Braun

Antti Niemi (likely starter)
Alex Stalock

Coyotes
Mikkel Boedker – Antoine Vermette – Shane Doan
Martin Erat – Kyle Chipchura – Radim Vrbata
Brandon McMillan – Mike Ribeiro – David Moss
Rob Klinkhammer – Jeff Halpern – Lauri Korpikoski

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Zbynek Michalek
Keith Yandle – Michael Stone
Chris Summers – Derek Morris

Mark Visentin (confirmed starter)
Thomas Greiss

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Raffi Torres (soreness/right knee surgery), Adam Burish (left hand), Scott Hannan (upper body) and Matt Nieto (healthy) are out.

Coyotes: Martin Hanzal (lower body), David Schlemko (lower body) and Mike Smith (lower body) are out.

Season/All-Time series

The Sharks are 2-0-1 in the season series with Phoenix. The teams have not seen one another since Dec. 27, a 4-3 Sharks win at Jobing.com Arena.

Joe Pavelski leads San Jose with six points (2g, 4a) in three games vs. Phoenix. Antti Niemi has tended goal in all three, with a 1.90 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.

All-time, the Sharks are 61-46-9 against the Phoenix/Winnipeg franchise, with seven ties.

Quoteable

“There were some big hits thrown. This game meant a lot to those guys over there. They were trying to get first in the West. They're fighting. It was a good intense game, and we're going to see a lot more of that come next week." – Joe Thornton, after the Sharks’ win over Colorado on Friday

Burning question

What were your impressions of Tomas Hertl in his first game back since knee surgery? Leave your answer in the comments section below.