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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, December 27th (All times Eastern)

San Jose Sharks (23-8-6) at Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-7), 9 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - An unlucky goal sent the Phoenix Coyotes into the holiday break with a losing record on their road trip.

The Coyotes next look to rebound and avoid a seventh loss in 10 games as they begin a favorable stretch of home games with Friday night's contest against the San Jose Sharks.

After dropping the first two games of their swing in Montreal and Toronto, the Coyotes picked up an overtime win at Ottawa before closing out their trip in Buffalo on Monday. Phoenix found itself in another overtime game, but lost 2-1 on a bizarre play 3:47 into the bonus frame.

The Sabres' Mark Pysyk fired a shot from near the right circle that was initially stopped by Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, but the puck bounced straight up into the air. It was batted down by a Phoenix defender and landed in the back of Smith's pants.

Smith, unaware of the disc wedged in his pants, turned and slid backwards into the net carrying the puck across the goal line for the game-winner.

"If they (the officials) don't see the puck they're supposed to blow the whistle. That didn't happen," said Smith. "I didn't feel it at all. I didn't know what happened. I know the puck went up in the air but I had no idea where it went after that."

Martin Hanzal scored the lone goal and Smith made 30 saves for Phoenix, which went 1-1-2 on its road trip.

The Coyotes will visit Anaheim on Saturday following this home contest, but then begin a six-game residency on Tuesday.

The Sharks are taking aim at a third straight victory, having won back-to-back shootout contests following a 2-5-1 skid. They went into the break having beaten the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 on Monday.

The Sharks blew a 3-2 lead with under two minutes to go in the third period, with the Avs getting goals from Erik Johnson and Jamie McGinn 12 seconds apart.

However, Joe Pavelski bailed out his club by scoring a tying goal with 19.6 seconds left on the clock and both Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau scored in the shootout.

Antti Niemi stopped both skaters he faced after posting 29 saves through overtime.

"It would have been nice to grab two (points) and not give them any, but that's the way it works sometimes," said San Jose center Joe Thornton, who finished with three assists and leads the NHL with 35 helpers.

Brent Burns notched a goal and two assists, Matt Irwin added a goal and a helper and Jason Demers donated his second goal of the season for the Sharks.

These two clubs split two earlier meetings this season, both in San Jose. The Sharks have lost five of their past six in Phoenix.

Niemi is 10-4-3 with a 2.02 goals against average and three shutouts in 18 lifetime starts versus the Coyotes, while Smith has gone 8-4-1 with a 2.07 GAA and four shutouts in 14 games versus the Sharks, including 13 starts.

12/27 10:47:18 ET

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