Kurz's Instant Replay: Coyotes 2, Sharks 1

Kurz's Instant Replay: Coyotes 2, Sharks 1
April 24, 2013, 9:15 pm
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The Sharks (fifth place in the West) lead the Blues by one point, but St. Louis has two games remaining, while the Sharks have just one. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX – The Sharks will now need some help if they want to secure home ice in the first round of the playoffs, as a dismal start was the difference in a 2-1 loss in Phoenix on Wednesday night at Jobing.com Arena.

Playing their third game in four nights, and second of a back-to-back, the Sharks allowed two first-period goals to Phoenix and never recovered.

A win would have placed the Sharks in fourth in the Western Conference and given them the luxury of controlling their own destiny, after the Los Angeles Kings lost to Detroit earlier on Wednesday. Instead, the Sharks and Kings can both be leapfrogged by the St. Louis Blues, who trail both clubs by one point and have one game in hand.

The Sharks, who clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday night, conclude their 48-game regular season slate on Saturday in Los Angeles. They can finish anywhere from fourth to seventh.

Phoenix dominated the first period, while the Sharks didn’t look ready to play.

Defenseman Mike Stone was left wide open at the top of the circle, and took a pass from Radim Vrbata before winding up and blasting a shot past Thomas Greiss at 11:56.

A power play goal put the Coyotes up 2-0, when a shot by Keith Yandle deflected off of Brad Stuart’s stick at 17:52.

San Jose was fortunate it was only down by two after the first 20 minutes. Greiss, seeing his first action since March 6, was forced to stop Lauri Korpikoski on a breakaway seconds after the opening faceoff. He stopped Vrbata alone in front a couple minutes later when Matt Irwin turned it over in the defensive zone.

The Sharks got some life in the second when Oliver Ekman-Larsson turned the puck over to Burns, who immediately slapped it past Mike Smith at 3:31. San Jose got its first power play of the game at 16:02 of the second on a Martin Hanzal boarding penalty on Andrew Desjardins, but couldn’t capitalize. A power play in the third period was cut short when Burns was whistled for tripping.

Burns and Dan Boyle were stopped by Smith in the final minute with Greiss pulled for an extra attacker, on two of his better saves.

The Sharks finished 3-1-1 against Phoenix in the season series.

Special teams
The Sharks were 0-for-2 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.

The Sharks have surrendered a power play goal in six of their last eight games.

In goal
Greiss was solid between the pipes, making 30 saves. He fell to 1-4-0.

Smith, playing against the Sharks for just the second time this season, improved to 7-3-1 career against San Jose with 33 saves.

Antti Niemi got his first break after 24 straight starts. He continues to lead the league with 24 wins.

Lineup
Scott Gomez was not feeling well, according to Todd McLellan, and missed the game. Dallas’ Erik Cole hit Gomez hard in the neutral zone on Tuesday, but it’s uncertain if that was related to his sitting out. James Sheppard returned in his place after sitting for six straight.

Rookie Matt Tennyson played in his fourth career game, while Scott Hannan sat out.

Up next
The Sharks flew to Los Angeles immediately following the game, and are off on Thursday. They will skate on Friday afternoon at the Kings’ practice facility before the game on Saturday.

Notables
Burns now has nine goals and nine assists in 22 games as a forward. … Logan Couture got kicked by Ekman-Larsson on the Sharks’ second period power play, and was shaken up on the play. … The Sharks are 9-6-2 against the Pacific Division. … Phoenix improved to 14-0-1 when leading after two periods.