Coyotes end Sharks unbeaten run to start 2019

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And then there were none.

The last team to avoid losing in 2019 has now lost. The Arizona Coyotes took advantage of San Jose Sharks team playing the second half of a back to back in a 6-3 win on Wednesday Night Hockey on NBCSN, snapping the Sharks seven-game unbeaten run to begin the new year.

The Coyotes looked solid in the game, unlike a team in their lowly position in the Western Conference. The Sharks looked tired at times, despite a late-game push that briefly put them within a goal of tying the game.

Lawson Crouse and Richard Panik gave Arizona a 2-0 lead inside the first five minutes of the game. Panik’s goal proved to be of added significance for the Coyotes, as it was their 12th shorthanded goal of the season to establish a new franchise record.

The scoring frenzy continued, with Kevin Labanc pulling the Sharks within one at 6:53 of the opening frame. But Arizona emerged from the break and fired two more past Aaron Dell, who got the start after Martin Jones engineered a 22-save performance in a 5-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

Dell saw 38 shots in the game, ending with 34 saves.

Darcy Kuemper got the start for Arizona, stopping 26-of-29 and has now won four consecutive starts.

Evander Kane Logan Couture brought the Sharks to 4-2 with less than five minutes left in the third, but an unwarranted penalty from Timo Meier (and a horrible giveaway from Erik Karlsson) allowed Alex Galchenyuk to seal it. Josh Archibald flung in an empty netter with less than a minute to go and that was that.

Arizona has been on a bit of a role, despite getting thrashed 7-1 by the Calgary Flames on Sunday. They had won three straight before that and now have wins in four of their past five to keep them within four points of the final wild card in the West.

The Sharks remain two points back of those Flames for tops in the Pacific Division. Calgary has a game in hand and lost to Buffalo in overtime on Wednesday.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Sharks visit on Coyotes on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes. Coverage begins at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Seven games in 2019 have equated to seven straight wins for the San Jose Sharks, who own the longest active winning streak in the NHL.

The Sharks are doing so well that they’ve climbed into second place in the Pacific Divison and can take top spot if the first-place Calgary Flames lose to the Buffalo Sabres.

The Sharks come into the game having played on Tuesday, with Tomas Hertl scoring a hat trick to down the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2.

It might be time, then, for the Coyotes to capitalize.

Arizona has won three of its past four and sends Darcy Kuemper into the crease. Kuemper has won four straight starts

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: San Jose Sharks at Arizona Coyotes
Where: Gila River Arena
When: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 10 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Sharks-Coyotes stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

SHARKS
Marcus SorensenJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski
Lukas RadilLogan CoutureTimo Meier
Evander Kane — Tomas Hertl — Joonas Donskoi
Melker KarlssonBarclay GoodrowKevin Labanc

Radim SimekBrent Burns
Brenden DillonErik Karlsson
Tim HeedJustin Braun

Starting goalie: Aaron Dell

COYOTES

Clayton KellerJordan WealChristian Fischer
Richard PanikDerek StepanVinnie Hinostroza
Alex GalchenyukNick CousinsConor Garland
Lawson CrouseMario KempeJosh Archibald

Oliver Ekman-LarssonNiklas Hjalmarsson
Jakob ChychrunIlya Lyubushkin
Jordan OesterleAlex Goligoski

Starting goalie: Darcy Kuemper

Chris Cuthbert (play-by-play) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz.

Wednesday Night Hockey: Sharks look to stay perfect in 2019

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes. Coverage begins at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

2019 has been good to the Sharks. They’ve managed to play five of seven games on home ice, which means they haven’t had to travel too much, and they’ve been able to win every single one of their contests. They took down Colorado, Tampa, Los Angeles, Edmonton, Vegas, Ottawa, and Pittsburgh.

Their seven-game winning streak will be tested starting tonight, as the Sharks will begin a four-game road trip in Arizona. They’ll also head to Tampa, Florida and Washington.

“We’re a confident group,” forward Evander Kane said. “We feel if we show up to play and play our best game we have a good chance to win every night. We’re confident in that. This is how you continue to climb in the standings. You put wins together consecutively. We need to continue to do that because it’s real tight right now.”

This recent run has allowed the Sharks to climb into second place in the Pacific Division. They’re now one point behind the Flames for top spot, but Calgary still has a game in hand.

This hot streak started well before Jan. 1. San Jose has been the second-best team in the league since Dec. 2 (their 16-3-2 record trails only Tampa Bay). In those 21 games, the Sharks have received some balanced scoring from most of their top players.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns have led the way, as they’ve accumulated 27 and 25 points respectively since then. Tomas Hertl, who had a hat trick against Pittsburgh last night, has 23 points, Kane has 21 points, and Joe Pavelski has 19 points.

“It’s just the balanced scoring,” said veteran Joe Thornton. “It seems like a lot of guys are going at the same time. I credit a lot of that to great defense, too. The defense is giving the pucks to forwards and they can go. The team is playing real well right now.”

The Sharks have also received some strong goaltending from Martin Jones. The 29-year-old has been between the pipes for six of the seven consecutive victories and he’s won each of his last eight decisions. He’s also given up two goals or fewer in five consecutive games. It’s incredible to think that he has just two regulation losses since Dec. 2.

Even though Jones has been terrific of late, he probably won’t start on a second consecutive night. So don’t be surprised if Aaron Dell gets the start against the Coyotes.

Chris Cuthbert (play-by-play) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Defenseman Josh Gorges retires after 13 NHL season

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Josh Gorges is retiring after 13 years in the NHL, having twice reached the Eastern Conference finals with the Montreal Canadiens.

The 34-year-old defenseman announced his decision Monday through the NHL Players’ Association.

Gorges has been out of hockey since his contract expired with Buffalo last season. His role gradually decreased during his four seasons with the Sabres, and he was limited to a career-low 34 games last year.

From Kelowna, British Columbia, he broke into the NHL as an undrafted free agent with the San Jose Sharks in 2005-06. He was traded to Montreal the following season.

He was a hard-working player during seven-plus seasons with the Canadiens and was twice voted the team’s unsung hero by Montreal media. He calls his time there ”arguably the greatest eight years of my hockey career.”

Overall, Gorges finished with 17 goals and 107 assists for 124 points in 783 games, plus nine assists in 68 playoff games.

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Karlsson’s three assists help Sharks dethrone Kings

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They might be at nearly opposite ends of the Pacific Division, but in three meetings between the third-place San Jose Sharks and last-place Los Angeles Kings, you’d never know there was an 18-point gap.

Game Three of the season series went much of the way as the other two, minus needing an overtime period to settle things.

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead in the season series with a 3-1 win at SAP Center on Monday, with Tomas Hertl‘s 15th of the season nearing the mid-way point of the second period proving to be the game-winner and Erik Karlsson‘s hat-trick of assists providing the spark.

The Kings were king killers heading into the game, having knocked off Winnipeg, San Jose, Vegas and Colorado as they won six of the past nine games entering Monday.

But San Jose was riding a wave of momentum after dispatching the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Saturday.

Any thoughts of an emotional dump were put to rest when Joonas Donskoi opened the scoring late in the first period to give the Sharks a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.

The Kings didn’t need long to respond in the second, and on a pretty goal to boot.

Anze Kopitar entered the Sharks zone, dropped the pass to a streaking Dustin Brown, who returned the favor as Kopitar finished off the play he started with his 11th just 3:42 into the game.

[MORE: Burns, Karlsson lead Sharks’ resurgence]

But it was Karlsson’s night in the end, something not all the surprising given the kind of heater he’s been on.

After a slow start following his move to San Jose, Karlsson grabbed two assists on a Dec. 7 game against the Dallas Stars and hasn’t gone a game without one since.

Karlsson had a hat trick of them in Monday’s win, providing the pass to Hertl for the eventual game-winner, along with his third of the game on Joe Thorton’s empty-netter with 21 seconds left in the game.

“We had a hard game against Tampa, we were all ready to go,” Karlsson said in a post-game interview on NBSCN. “It felt like the intensity was down a little bit today, which can happen, but I think we stuck with it, stayed within the structure that got us two points today.”

Karlsson made some history, too, pushing his consecutive assist streak to 13 games as he joined a who’s who of the best to ever play on the blue line.

The Sharks moved to within a point of the Vegas Golden Knights for second place and three back from the Pacific-leading Calgary Flames.

Los Angeles remains in last place in the Western Conference on 37 points.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck