Maybe a 2-2 road trip in the heat of the playoff race doesn't sound too exciting, but that's not how Antti Niemi looked at it after the Sharks shut out the Phoenix Coyotes.

"Yeah, I think getting two wins on the road -- we'd rather have three or four -- but I still think two is pretty good," Niemi said after Monday night's 4-0 win, "especially coming to the last road game with one win."

The Sharks, after all, began the trip with an unimpressive 6-10-2 record away from home, so breaking even isn't to be scoffed at. And now San Jose returns home for four games at HP Pavilion, where the team has been a head-scratchingly good 14-1-5.

Which is why Tuesday night's battle for fourth place with the Los Angeles Kings was already on everybody's mind.

San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture (39) celebrates his goal against the Phoenix Coyotes with teammates Jason Demers (5), Brad Stuart (7), Martin Havlat
San Jose Sharks' Logan Couture (39) celebrates his goal against the Phoenix Coyotes with teammates Jason Demers (5), Brad Stuart (7), Martin Havlat (9), of the Czech Republic, and Patrick Marleau (12) in the second period during an NHL hockey game, on Monday, April 15, 2013 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) ( Ross D. Franklin )

"We've got a big game tomorrow night against LA that I know we're all looking forward to so it's good to win this one," said Logan Couture, one of four Sharks to score on backup netminder Jason LaBarbera.

LaBarbera was in net for Phoenix when starter Mike Smith -- who has been brutal on the Sharks lately -- was kept out of the lineup with a lower body injury. It's hard not to cite that as a big break for the Sharks -- not to diminish LaBarbera's value or the fact San Jose still needed to take advantage of it.

Said Raffi Torres, a teammate of both Smith and LaBarbera: "Anytime you get Mike Smith you know it's going to be a tough one, but Barbs has played pretty good for them this year. He's played well and had some big games so I wanted to make sure they knew that."