The San Jose Sharks played their second preseason game at home against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night, where the game went into overtime. Logan Couture would net the overtime goal to give the Sharks the win 3-2, all Sharks’ goals coming on the power play.
Several Sharks players made their preseason debut, including Sena Acolatse and Curt Gogol, while Thornton, Burns and Hertl were out of the lineup for the night.
Harri Sateri started in net for the Sharks as the competition to start behind netminder Antti Niemi for the regular season continued to play out in the preseason between him and Alex Stalock.
San Jose started the first period with Sateri making some solid saves with the Coyotes putting on the pressure. Matt Nieto came out of the gates with both speed and skill on a line with Tommy Wingels, who nearly put one past Mike Smith. The Coyotes would score first on a power play with Sharks John McCarthy off for holding. Phoenix’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson put it top shelf from a feed from former Shark Tim Kennedy to put the Coyotes up 1-0. The Sharks would have a few good looks at the net but would head into the first break down a goal.
The Sharks began the second period with an almost immediate power play as the Coyotes’ Chris Brown drew a 4 minute high sticking call. Freddie Hamilton would find the back of Smith’s net 52 seconds into the power play with Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture assisting on the play, tying the game at 1. The Sharks would go on to kill off a Phoenix power play midway through the 2nd period. Another Coyotes penalty put the Sharks on the power play again. This time Jason Demers would sail one in off a feed from Pavelski and Marleau, pushing San Jose ahead 2-1. With 31 seconds to go in the second period, Phoenix would tie it up with a goal by Andy Miele.
Both teams brought up the intensity in the 3rd period with several tense moments between players in front of Sateri’s net. Logan Couture was hit hard from behind by Coyotes’ Chris Brown and was slow to get up and back on the ice. After the game, Couture was surprised that the hit didn’t draw a penalty. “I almost went in head first to the boards, five feet away, had my back to the guy, I was shocked it wasn’t a penalty.” Brown would again put the Sharks on the power play with a roughing call but the Coyotes would kill off San Jose’s drive to the net leaving the score tied at 2 and on to overtime.
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Logan Couture netted the game winning goal on a power play as Phoenix was called for too many men. Couture played the puck behind the net which then deflected off Mike Smith’s skate and went in. Final score 3-2, with the Sharks getting their second preseason win.
Both Freddie Hamilton and Matt Nieto played an impressive game and Coach McLellan talked after the game about Hamilton’s drive. “He’s playing like he wants to make the team…He’s responsible all over the rink, on the power play, he got a chance and he made good on it and his responsibility in all three zones.” McLellan indicated that we may see Hamilton up at the NHL level and that he felt confidence in his play to give him the ice time if he was brought up. On Nieto, McLellan highlighted “His speed, his tenacity, he’s on top of pucks.” Coach commented on what the new guys bring to the game and its affect on other players. “I really like the competitiveness among some of the players right now, including the veterans, they’re pushing, the young guys are pushing them.”
Other notable players who stood out for McLellan were Bracken Kearns and John McCarthy, who maybe aren’t as flashy as Hamilton and Nieto but get the job done. As the preseason winds down, the Sharks roster will tighten up. More cuts are expected before the Sharks take on the Vancouver Canucks at home on Tuesday.