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GLENDALE, Ariz. — After suffering another in a season-long series of frustrating losses on Saturday night to the San Jose Sharks, the Arizona Coyotes will get a chance to settle the score on Tuesday night at Gila River Arena.
The Coyotes will be back home for a rematch with the Sharks, who beat them 6-5 in overtime on Saturday night at SAP Center.
The Coyotes have lost three straight games, 13 of 16 and 16 of 20 going into the rematch. Saturday’s loss was consistent with how their season has gone. They gave up the lead with 15 seconds remaining in regulation on a goal by forward Joonas Donskoi, then lost in overtime on defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s goal.
“We have seven or eight guys play really good games,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. “The problem is we had seven or eight guys play terrible games.”
The Coyotes are 10-28-7 through their first 45 games — and that means they’re on pace to win only 18 games. No NHL team has won fewer than 20 games in a full season since the Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets, won only 19 games in the 2001-02 season.
What bothers Tocchet is so many of the losses are occurring in winnable games, with the Coyotes either leading or tied late in the third period only to have the game get away from them.
“It seems like our heart rate goes a million miles per hour (in such situations),” Tocchet said. “This is when you’ve really got to buckle down and be in the moment.”
San Jose will come in on a bit of a roll, having beaten the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 on Monday afternoon behind goalie Martin Jones’ 35 saves and a goal and an assist from center Chris Tierney. Joe Thornton added an empty-net goal as San Jose improved to 3-0-1 in the season series against Los Angeles.
San Jose has gained points in 13 of its last 15 games and is 10-2-3 against Pacific Division teams. Arizona is 1-7-4 against division opponents.
“You dial in a bit more when you’re playing a rival and you’re playing a division team,” said Tierney, who has six points in his last six games, including three goals.
Scott Wedgewood started in goal against the Sharks on Saturday night, but Antti Raanta (6-12-3, 2.73 goals-against average) is expected to be in net for the rematch. He is 2-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average in his career against San Jose.
Jones was pulled Saturday against Arizona after stopping only three of the six shots he faced, though he rebounded Monday to get the win. Aaron Dell replaced him against Arizona and was credited with the victory after stopping 13 of 15 shots.