SAN JOSE — Goaltender Harri Sateri said he's excited about starting his first NHL preseason game Saturday as the Sharks host the Phoenix Coyotes. And San Jose's coaching staff is also eager to see how Sateri reacts to the environment.

"Almost in fairness to Harri, it begins tonight," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of Sateri's training camp. "That's not 100 percent truthful, but you have to watch these goaltenders in games against the opposition to really get a feel for how comfortable they are, how they perform, how they are around their teammates."

Sateri is in a competition with Alex Stalock to be the Sharks' backup goalie to No. 1 Antti Niemi. Stalock started in San Jose's first exhibition game against Vancouver on Sept. 16 and made 14 saves on 16 shots in a 3-2 San Jose win.

Sateri's last start came for Worcester on Apr. 17 against Springfield, and it appears he'll play the entire game Saturday for the Sharks.

"It's been a while since I last played. Everything starts again, it's good to get that first game out of the way, and I'm really excited to get this opportunity tonight," Sateri said. "I've been looking for it and waiting for it."

Stalock will dress as the team's backup against the Coyotes, who are 2-1 so far in the preseason.

"Harri's been doing everything we ask in training camp," McLellan said. "He'll now get a chance to play, and the battle goes on."

For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks.