Coyotes host Sharks in key Western battle

A pair of Pacific Division rivals will meet for an important battle in the desert on Monday, as the Phoenix Coyotes host the San Jose Sharks at Arena.

With three losses over their last four games, the Sharks enter this clash in need of a win. Despite the recent slide, however, San Jose's playoff prospects are currently in better shape than the Coyotes' postseason chances.

San Jose is sitting fifth in the West with 49 points -- one ahead of St. Louis -- but Phoenix is in 11th place and four points out of the conference's final postseason berth.

Phoenix has lost two of their last three games, but the Coyotes have gained at least a point in eight of nine outings, going 5-1-3 over that stretch to give them 43 points on the season.

The club picked up a point in its last game on Friday, losing a 3-2 overtime decision at Calgary. Mark Giordano scored the winner for the Flames with 23.1 seconds to play in OT. With time winding down, Mikael Backlund brought the puck in down the left wing and fired a pass over to his right for Curtis Glencross, who one-touched the puck back to Giordano and his wrister beat Mike Smith for the win.

Keith Yandle and Antoine Vermette scored and Smith stopped 22 shots for the Coyotes. Yandle's tally tied the game at 2-2 with just over five minutes left in regulation.

"A tight game, we needed one of those posts to go in for us tonight and it didn't happen," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett.

Phoenix has won its last three games at home and boasts a solid 13-7-1 record as the host this season. The Coyotes will head out on a three-game road trip after Monday's contest.

The Sharks, who are just 7-12-2 on the road this season, are completing a four-game swing on Monday.

After notching a 3-2 shootout win in Detroit on Thursday, the Sharks were dealt a 2-1 regulation setback in Saturday's game against Dallas. San Jose fell behind 2-0 to the Stars in the first period and was never able to recover.

Brent Burns had the lone goal for the Sharks, while Antti Niemi gave up both goals on 19 shots in the loss.

"I thought we were spotty," said San Jose head coach Todd McLellan. "We got our game going, it took us a little while to get into it, and obviously that probably cost us the night.

San Jose has claimed two of three against the Coyotes this season, but this is the first encounter between the teams in Phoenix. The Sharks have lost four straight on the road in this series and last won at Arena on March 26, 2011.