(photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
With fifty shots registered on goal for the Sharks, the anticipated outcome eluded San Jose. The Coyotes Mike Smith stopped 48 shots and Phoenix took the game to the shootout where Antoine Vermette got past Niemi to give San Jose their first home loss of the season.
The opening period did not begin well for the Sharks. On a clearing attempt by Dan Boyle to Brad Stuart, the puck got stopped up at the blueline and was quickly taken in to the zone by Vermette. He then put it in behind Niemi to get the Coyotes on the board first with just 36 seconds gone by in the first period. The rest of the period found the Sharks struggling to generate much in the way of offensive drive down the ice until San Jose’s Tommy Wingels went off for interference halfway through the period. Marleau broke away down the ice just as Wingels exited the box, but Mike Smith would stuff the opportunity and deny the Sharks a tying goal. A golden opportunity to score would come for San Jose when Phoenix’s Vrbata delivered a high stick to Scott Hannan drawing blood and the four minute penalty. San Jose put intense pressure on the Coyotes’ penalty kill unit but Smith continued the shutdown and sent the Sharks into the first break ahead 16-7 in shots but behind a goal.
The Sharks came out stronger in the second and wasted no time in getting the equalizer. Pavelski would pick up a feed from Matt Nieto out of their zone. As Pavelski skated up on the right, Nieto put on the jets creating a 2 on 1 rush that caused netminder Smith to hesitate. Pavelski fired it in after faking a pass to Nieto with 1:16 gone by in the second period.
Phoenix then took a penalty, putting San Jose on the power play and patience paid off for the Sharks. The Coyotes penalty killing unit got hemmed in their zone as San Jose cycled the puck. Boyle came to the right circle and wristed the puck over Smith’s shoulder. The game was the first back for Boyle after he was drilled into the boards by the St. Louis Blues’ Maxim Lapierre on October 15th. Both Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton notched assists on the goal. The assist was the 800th of Thornton’s career. The 2-1 lead would not last as Phoenix answered back not more than 2 minutes later with their first shot on goal for the period. Boedker snuck past the stick of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and fired the puck in at a harsh angle beating Niemi and tying the game 2-2.
The third period was a stalemate as neither team could get a puck in the net. San Jose dominated the scoring chances as Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Martin Havlat and Pavelski all tried to solve the Mike Smith riddle but came up empty. The shots piled up and at the end of regulation the chances were 50-23 in favor of team teal.
Phoenix made the Sharks scramble in overtime registering seven shots but Niemi and Vlasic kept it all tied up at 2 forcing the game to a shootout. Logan Couture potted San Jose’s lone shootout goal and Phoenix tallied two with Vrbata and Vermette scoring for the Coyotes.
The Pacific Division is tightly contested with just one point separating Phoenix and Vancouver, and Anaheim closing in on the Sharks. Although it is still early in the season, the competition is stiff and very little wiggle room will be had by any team moving forward. The Sharks look to snap their 2 game skid on Tuesday when they take on the Buffalo Sabres on home ice. The puck drops at 7:30 at the SAP Center.