Eliminated from playoff contention, Sharks, Coyotes seek strong finish

Sharks

Arizona will look to knock off the host San Jose Sharks for the second time in as many nights when the teams conclude their regular-season series on Saturday.

Although both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, they are looking to finish the season strong. Arizona took the first step by ending a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Sharks on Friday. Meantime, San Jose has lost four of its past five games and hasn’t played well this season against the Coyotes, who lead the season series 4-2-1.

In Friday’s game, the Sharks (21-27-6, 48 points) had a 2-0 lead before giving up five unanswered goals, including a breakaway goal from Phil Kessel in the third period that gave the Coyotes (23-26-6, 52) their first lead.

“It might be my first breakaway goal of the year,” Kessel told the media after the game. “I’m happy to score on a breakaway for once. I don’t know, I stink at them. Got to figure out during the summer, I guess.”

Kessel scored on his second breakaway attempt after Sharks goalie Josef Korenar denied his first attempt at the start of the third frame.

Although San Jose was the stronger team in the second period, the Sharks let Arizona swing momentum back into its favor.

“I thought they got behind us a little bit,” San Jose defenseman Mario Ferraro said. “One of those goals there, I was up on a play, and Kessel saw the breakaway. He had a couple of breakaway chances. We should have been more aware of that.”

Darcy Kuemper made 26 saves for Arizona.

It also didn’t help the Sharks that they were without captain Logan Couture, who is sidelined with a lower-body injury that could also cause him to miss the rest of the regular season, which for San Jose concludes on Wednesday against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights.

“When someone’s not 100 percent and you have guys that are 100 (percent) waiting to go in, I think it’s just a smart decision,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner said of Couture, who has 17 goals and 14 assists this season. “You don’t want to put (Couture) in a situation where, especially with his past history of injuries, to put him somewhere he’s going have to struggle through. We want to make sure that we’re taking care of it now.”

The Sharks also likely will be without rookie forward John Leonard on Saturday after he lost his footing and hit head first into the boards near Arizona’s bench on Friday. Leonard laid face down for a few moments before the Sharks’ trainers helped him off the ice. He has 13 points (thee goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season.

“Just praying he’s all right,” Ferraro said of Leonard. “That’s all we do, is hope the best for him. Hate to see him get off the ice there. I hope he’s all right.”

–Field Level Media

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