The Phoenix Coyotes (20-18-8) defeated the San Jose Sharks (25-14-7) by the final of 2-1 in Phoenix leaving one game left to play in the regular season.
With the Los Angeles Kings losing earlier this evening the Sharks had a chance to take the outright lead for fourth place in the conference yet it was not to be. On the plus side the Sharks will still be playing the Kings this Saturday which could decide who gets home ice, although the St. Louis Blues could still sneak into the picture as well with two games left to play.
Getting the start in goal tonight for the Sharks was Thomas Greiss, not Antti Niemi, breaking his streak of 24 straight games. The move was a much needed one because it finally gave Niemi his much deserved rest.
Also inserted into the lineup tonight for San Jose were James Sheppard in place of Scott Gomez and Matt Tennyson getting the call over veteran Scott Hannan.
Inserting Sheppard into the lineup on that fourth line with Andrew Desjardins and Adam Burish looke like a great move this evening because they created all kinds of scoring chances and were always pushing the play, especially in that second period.
Stone’s goal came with about eight minutes left in the period. He scored on a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle to Greiss’ left that beat him low.
Yandle’s goal came right before the period ended when he scored from the point on the power play. His shot was partially deflected by Brad Stuart in front which made it too tough for Greiss to make the save.
In the second period the Sharks were able to cut the Coyote lead in half when Brent Burns scored his ninth goal of the season. Burns goal was set up by a great forecheck and when the Coyote defenseman tried to get rid of the puck it went straight to Burns who fired a quick shot on goal that beat Mike Smith.
After the goal San Jose got all kinds of energy and finally settled into the game. Before that they had trouble just getting the puck out of their own end and the offense was a mess. The goal helped remedy that to a certain extent.
In the third period the Sharks killed off two Coyotes power plays early on with the help of Greiss. He was by far the best penalty killer of the night for the Sharks and was able to keep them in the game on more than one occasion.
With 1:30 left the Sharks pulled goaltender Greiss for the extra man but were unable get the goal they were looking for. They peppered the net and got all kinds of chances but Smith was just too good in net and the Coyotes ended with the 2-1 victory.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Mike Smith (33 saves)
2. Thomas Greiss (30 saves)
3. Shane Doan (2 assists)