(SAN JOSE) -- It's been a long time since the hometown fans of the San Jose Sharks have seen their team play live, but tonight's the night the National Hockey League returns to HP Pavilion in San Jose.
It was April 19, 2012, when the Sharks lost Game Four at home to the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. When San Jose went down in Game Five on the road to end their season, it left Sharks fans wondering when the next game would be.
Well, it's tonight, at 7:30 p.m., and San Jose has a two-game winning streak in this young, shortened season that just began last week.
Strangely, it's been even longer since the Sharks posted a win at HP Pavilion, since they lost both home games to the Blues in that playoff series.
April 7 was the last time the San Jose fans saw a win on home ice, when the Sharks closed out the regular season with an overtime win over the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
The math tells us that's 292 days the local fan base has been waiting for a win on home ice.
The Sharks hope to avoid disappointing what is expected to be a sellout crowd, as they take on the Phoenix Coyotes -- the defending Pacific Division champions -- tonight.
San Jose (2-0-0) is one of six perfect teams in the NHL right now, atop the Pacific Division standings early, while Phoenix is struggling early with only one win in three games so far.
The Sharks won their first two games of the season on the road.
And they now get six games at home: Phoenix tonight, Colorado Saturday, Vancouver Sunday, Anaheim Tuesday, Edmonton next Thursday and Nashville on the following Saturday.
It's San Jose's second-longest homestand of the short season, as they'll have a seven-game stretch at HP Pavilion starting on March 27 and running through April 7.
Thus, it's a great opportunity for the Sharks to get out from the gate strong this year, and they face an opponent tonight already dealing with a major injury to No. 1 goaltender Mike Smith.
Backup Jason LaBarbera has the team's only win, and Smith will be a game-time decision tonight for the Coyotes.