Kurz's Instant Replay: Sharks 4, Coyotes 0

Kurz's Instant Replay: Sharks 4, Coyotes 0
April 15, 2013, 9:00 pm
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Logan Couture scored two goals on Monday taking over the team lead in goals scored. (AP IMAGES)

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX – The Sharks scored three times in the second period and Antti Niemi made 35 saves in a 4-0 win over Phoenix on Monday night at Jobing.com Arena.

The Sharks concluded their four-game road trip with a 2-2-0 record, and open a four-game homestand on Tuesday with the Kings, where they are 14-1-5. San Jose (22-13-7, 51 points) solidified its grip on the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

Niemi, making his 20th consecutive start, recorded his fourth shutout of the season and second against Phoenix. His 21 wins tie him for the league lead.

Logan Couture’s goal opened the scoring at 8:50 of the second. Jason Demers’ point shot went right to Couture’s tape in the opposite circle, and he lifted it past Jason LaBarbera.

Less than two minutes later, an offensive zone faceoff draw taken by Joe Pavelski rattled around near the dot, and Tommy Wingels’ backhander found the top corner at 10:38.

The Sharks continued to come in waves towards Phoenix, and increased their lead to 3-0 when Pavelski’s wrist shot beat LaBarbera at 16:01. Raffi Torres, playing against his former team for the first time, assisted on the goal.

San Jose outshot Phoenix 24-7 in the second period, and 41-35 for the game.

Torres was active throughout the game, including the opening shift, when he leveled Keith Yandle in the neutral zone just after the opening faceoff. He passed up an open look at the net a few seconds later on an offensive rush, opting to pass to Pavelski, who couldn’t get a shot off. Torres and Yandle received coincidental minors at 4:52 of the first, when Torres elbowed the defenseman in the chin and Yandle retaliated with a slash.

In the second, Torres drove hard to the net and was pushed into LaBarbera from behind by Kyle Chipchura, who received an interference minor. LaBarbera was slow to get up, and gave up Pavelski’s goal soon after on a shot he probably should have stopped.

Niemi got his right pad on a shot by Alexandre Bolduc with seven minutes left, and made a chest save on Mikkel Boedker on a Coyotes power play to keep the three-goal cushion intact after 40 minutes.

Matt Irwin's power play goal at 18:33 of the third capped the scoring.

The Sharks ended a four-game losing streak in Phoenix. They’ve won three of the four games in the season series, which concludes here on April 24.

Special teams
The Sharks had two power plays in the game, failing to convert in the second period on Chipchura’s minor drawn by Torres. Martin Hanzal’s roughing minor late in the third resulted in Couture’s goal, when an Irwin point shot bounced in off of a Coyotes player in front of the net.

The Sharks’ killed off TJ Galiardi’s cross-checking minor at 17:24 of the second period, preserving their 3-0 lead at the break. Phoenix was 0-for-3.

In goal
Niemi improved to 9-4-2 all-time against Phoenix. It was his third career shutout of the Coyotes.

The Sharks caught a break before the game started as Phoenix goalie Mike Smith was a late scratch with a lower body injury. Smith has shutout the Sharks four of the last six times he’s faced them, and is 5-0-1 with 0.99 goals-against average and .943 save percentage over that span.

Smith has faced the Sharks just once in the four games of the season series, recording a 1-0 shutout on Feb. 9 at HP Pavilion.

LaBarbera made 36 saves in the loss. He's 0-6-2 in his last nine games against the Sharks, with one no-decision.

Lineup
Scott Hannan was taken off of injured reserve, and took pregame warmups with the team. He has yet to play since he was acquired from Nashville at the trade deadline, as he recovers from a neck injury.

Up next
The Sharks have six games left in the season, the next four of which are at HP Pavilion. After hosting Los Angeles on Tuesday, visits from Minnesota, Columbus and Dallas round out the final homestand.