In another tight game between the Phoenix Coyotes (14-15-6) and the San Jose Sharks (17-11-6) it was the Sharks who game out on top in the shootout behind a strong performance by Antti Niemi. San Jose also showed some resiliency tonight having fallen behind twice but answering both times.
One key lineup change today, as we found out earlier, was that Brent Burns was pushed back to the blue-line to replace the injured Jason Demers. As a result forward Adam Burish was put onto the top line with Havlat and Thornton in order to keep the other three lines together. It was definitely a great decision considering all four lines have been clicking well these last few games.
Also, the attendance of Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis (as mentioned by Randy and Drew during the telecast) at this evening’s game is sure to raise at least a few eyebrows, especially so close to the trade deadline. It’s quite the news too considering the Canucks have expressed an interest in Clowe who has been in the midst of all kinds of trade rumors.
Scoring opened up late in the first period when Boyd Gordon for the Coyotes scored after tracking down a loose puck in front of the San Jose net. Part of the problem on the goal for the Sharks was a failed defensive assignment that allowed Gordon to cruise in front and find the puck pretty much unscathed.
In the second period the Sharks tied the game on a four-minute power play. Their man-advantage featured all kinds of chances including two shots off the post from both Couture and Marleau. Eventually the Sharks were able to break through and score when Joe Pavelski fired the puck from the point after a drop pass from Joe Thornton and scored to even the game at one apiece.
At the start of the third period, less than a minute in, Radim Vrbata took advantage of another defensive lapse by the Sharks as he snuck into the slot and scored from there. His initial shot was stopped by Antti Niemi but with nobody to clear the rebound Vrbata scored on his own rebound.
After controlling play for the majority of the third period the Sharks tied the game once again with five minutes left in regulation when Marc-Edouard Vlasic puts home a rebound opportunity off of a Pavelski shot. He initially took the puck from the blue-line all the way down below the net and fed the puck to Pavelski before picking up the rebound and putting it by Phoenix goaltender Jason LaBarbera. The goal ended up sending the game to overtime with neither team able to take the lead in the final minutes of the game.
One of the best chance of overtime came for Marleau who tried to deflect a shot-pass from Burns but LaBarbera was able to get across the crease and stop Marleau who was on his doorstep.
A couple shifts later Antoine Vermette got just as golden an opportunity to score when he picked Clowe’s pocket in the neutral zone and was in all alone against Niemi. Luckily for the Sharks Niemi got just enough of the puck to change its trajectory as it went through him but trickled just by the post. Clowe then proceeded to take a penalty with less than 20 seconds left in the overtime period but Phoenix was unable to do anything in that short span.
In the shootout Logan Couture scored on San Jose’s first attempt and that was all as far as goals were concerned. Niemi was perfect in the shootout and in the end was able to secure the Sharks’ fourth-straight victory.
With the win the Sharks ‘leapfrog’ the idle Red Wings and move into sixth place in the conference and just one point behind the L.A. Kings in fifth place.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Joe Pavelski (1 goal, 1 assist )
2. Antti Niemi (27 saves, 3-3 in overtime)
3. Jason LaBarbera (32 saves)