Niemi Rock Solid In Shutout Win For Sharks Over Coyotes


Apr. 15, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Jose Sharks left wing Raffi Torres (13) puts Phoenix Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura (24) in a headlock during the second period at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks (22-13-7) defeated the Phoenix Coyotes (18-17-7) 4-0 in the desert on Monday night earning two more important points in the playoff race.  They also pick one of those ROW’s (regulation + overtime wins) in the process to help themselves in the event of a tie in points.

The win brings the Sharks back to within one point of the L.A. Kings for fourth in the conference while the putting two more points between San Jose and those chasing them. San Jose has a chance to leap-frog the Kings tomorrow night when both teams play each other at HP Pavillion.  For the Coyotes the loss hurts them in a major way and keeps them four points back of a playoff spot with six games left to play.

As far as the game goes scoring did not start until the second period, but San Jose did manage three goals.  The Sharks dominated the period outshooting Phoenix 24-7 and outscored them 3-0.  That was the score they took into the dressing room.

The first goal was scored by Logan Couture after he put back a rebound from a sharp angle.  The puck squirted right to him after Jason LaBarbera make the intial save on a shot from the point by the Sharks.  The goal was his 17th of the season tying him for the team lead with Patrick Marleau.

Two minutes after the first goal was scored Tommy Wingels fired a wrist-shot beating the Coyotes goaltender in the top left corner of the net.  The shot came directly off a faceoff win and Wingels took the shot while falling down but was able to get the puck in the net, and just like that the Sharks were up 2-0.

The Sharks struck again with four minutes left in the period when Joe Pavelski fired a wrist-shot by LaBarbera during a  two-on-one opportunity that had Raffi Torres heading to the net in case of a rebound.  There ended up being none as the shot was a beautiful one that beat the goaltender in the top corner and Torres picked up the assist on the play after passing Pavelski the puck in the neutral zone.

At the beginning of the third period Phoenix stepped up their forecheck and expectedly so down 3-0 and at risk of falling out of the playoff race.  It was pretty effective as they were able to force plenty of turnovers and generate some scoring chances.  They out shot the Sharks 16-7 in the final frame but did not get much out of those shots.

With seven minutes left the Coyotes ‘earned’ a penalty (on an awful call) but the Sharks stood their ground.  In fact, the Sharks and Antti Niemi stood their ground for the rest of the game and Niemi eventually earned his fourth shutout of the season en route to the 3-0 San Jose victory.

Matt Irwin also added a tally late in the game with a shot from the blue-line.  LaBarbera made the intial stop but mishandled the puck and eventually knocked it into his own net in what was an unfortunate turn of events for him.

GGS 3 Stars
1. Antti Niemi (35 saves, 4th shoutout)
2. Tommy Wingels (1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating, 2 takeaways)
3. Joe Pavelski (1 goal, +2 rating, 4 shots)