The San Jose Sharks are faced with the task of attempting to slow down Radim Vrbata when they host the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. Vrbata has registered two straight hat tricks, scoring three goals during a four-point performance against the Ducks in Anaheim in the 2012-13 finale and netting three consecutive tallies in a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers in Thursday's season opener. The 32-year-old Czech recorded only three hat tricks in his first 710 career games.
San Jose extended its winning streak against Vancouver to 10 games with a season-opening 4-1 triumph at home on Thursday. Brent Burns began a string of four unanswered goals for the Sharks, whose run of success against the Canucks includes a first-round sweep in last season's playoffs and a pair of preseason contests last month. San Jose was without a number of injured regulars that includes defenseman Brad Stuart, who sat out with a lower-body ailment.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, CSN California (San Jose)
ABOUT THE COYOTES (1-0-0): The Coyotes - and Vrbata - appeared to be inspired by playing their first game under stable ownership after four years of being under the control of the NHL. "That's what everyone's been waiting for the past four years," Vrbata said. "The fans liked it, we liked it on the bench and took advantage of it early on." Vrbata is the first player to end one season and begin the next with a hat trick since Luc Robitaille of the Los Angeles Kings in 1988.
ABOUT THE SHARKS (1-0-0): With forwards Raffi Torres (knee), Adam Burish (lower body) and Martin Havlat (pelvis) on the shelf, San Jose put youngsters Tomas Hertl and Matt Nieto in the lineup. The 20-year-old Nieto had an uneventful NHL debut, but the 19-year-old Hertl registered an assist in his first career game. They are the first two Sharks who were born after the franchise played its first game on Oct. 4, 1991.
1. Coyotes LW Paul Bissonnette has two games remaining on his suspension for leaving the bench to join in a fight during a preseason contest.
2. One blemish in the Sharks' season-opening victory was their power play, which went 0-for-8.
3. Saturday's contest begins a five-game road trip for Phoenix.
PREDICTION: Sharks 3, Coyotes 1