The San Jose Sharks fell to the Phoenix Coyotes by the final score of 3-2 in a shootout loss at home. The shootout, which went to five rounds, was ended by Antoine Vermette, who scored five-hole on Antti Niemi for the game-winner.
Unfortunately, for the second game in a row the Sharks only picked up a single point against a Pacific Division opponent. The Pacific, which is arguably the best in hockey right now, is looking like it will be a dogfight all season long, so each point lost is a big one. However, the silver lining for the highest shooting team in the league got back on track with another 50-plus shot game after being held to 49 shots combined in the last two games. The Sharks ended up outshooting the Coyotes 50-30.
There were quite a few lineup changes today, most notably defenseman Dan Boyle, who returned to the lineup after a seven-game absence. The veteran blueliner looked shaky at times and was fighting the puck all night, but once he got into the pace of the game ended up doing just fine and ended with more than 22 minutes of ice time. Boyle ended up picking up his second goal of the season, scoring with the man-advantage on a well-placed shot that beat Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith.
Also reinserted into the lineup was rookie Matt Nieto, who has been out for three games with an injury to his hand. He looked his usual self and ended up picking up an assist on the first goal of the game by his centerman, Joe Pavelski.
One more lineup change had Martin Havlat taking his usual spot (from last year) on the top line with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau and he looked great. He was all over the ice creating turnovers and firing shots when given the chance and ended the game with three takeaways and three shots on net. Due to this lineup change, Tyler Kennedy was moved to the right wing of Joe Thornton and he too looked great.
Once again, the game started with an early goal, although this time it wasn’t the Sharks who struck in the first minute of the play, it was their opponent. The Coyotes struck first when Vermette scored off of a Sharks turnover near their own blue line that resulted in an offensive chance for Phoenix. Vermette, who received the puck near the top of the circle to Antti Niemi’s right, made no mistake about it and fired a shot by the San Jose goaltender to make it 1-0.
Both of San Jose’s goals came in the second period, with one each by Pavelski and Boyle. Pavelski’s goal came on a two-on-one with Nieto where he picked the top corner against Smith, while Boyle’s goal came on the power play and he also beat Smith high to the glove side. In all, San Jose’s power play had 21 shots on net but ended up getting just the one goal on six opportunities.
Quickly after the Sharks took the 2-1 lead on that Pavelski goal the Coyotes struck back on a Michael Boedker goal that Niemi would definitely have liked to have back. Boedker took the puck all the way from his blue line and drove down the right side against Marc-Edouard Vlasic. He was able to stick-handle by Vlasic and put a weak shot on net and unfortunately it beat Niemi, who was unable to get his stick on the ice quickly enough to stop it. By the way, that shot was Phoenix’s first of the period and happened almost 10 minutes into the period, so up until then the defense had been flawless.
We fast-forward to the overtime period which was very chaotic (from a San Jose point of view) and Niemi was at his best for the Sharks and ended with seven saves. San Jose, on the other hand, was held without a shot on net. After five minutes at four-on-four and no winner, the game went to a shootout.
In the shootout the Sharks got off to a great start when Couture started first and scored, but after that it was all Mike Smith and the Coyotes. Phoenix’s goals came from Radim Vrbata and Vermette, who ended up with the game winner. Pavelski also fired a shot that beat Smith, but unfortunately he rang his shot off the post. In the end, the Sharks pick up a point in their second straight loss in extra time to a divisional opponent.
GGS 3 Stars
1. Mike Smith (48 saves on 50 shots)
2. Joe Pavelski (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. Antoine Vermette (1 goal, game-winning shootout goal)