Sharks battle for extra point in shootout win

March 25, 2012, 4:45 am
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SAN JOSE Daniel Winnik tied the game in the third period and the Sharks won in a shootout over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night at HP Pavilion, 4-3.

After a scoreless overtime, Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe beat goaltender Mike Smith to the stick side on their shootout attempts, while Antti Niemi stopped Mikkel Boedker and Ray Whitney to give San Jose the important extra point.

The Sharks held a 2-1 lead in the first period before falling asleep as the clock wound down. Marc-Edouard Vlasic had control of the puck in the defensive zone, and instead of trying to clear it, fired it into the corner. It bounced around and ended up on the stick of Derek Morris, and the Coyotes defenseman beat Niemi from the high slot with less than a second to go.

Phoenix carried that momentum into the third in taking a 3-2 lead. On a two-on-two rush, Whitney found a charging Lauri Korpikoskis stick for a redirection at 49 seconds after Douglas Murray allowed Whitney to skate freely towards the net.

Niemi had been struggling up to that point, but made a sprawling pad save on Boyd Gordon to keep it a 3-2 game when Gordon skated in alone.

That allowed the Sharks to tie it at 5:01, when Winniks blast from the top of the circle cleanly beat Smith for his seventh of the year. After going 43 straight without a goal, Winnik has one marker in each of his last two games.

The Sharks got the better of the scoring chances in the third period and overtime. With 6:44 to go, Joe Thornton had the puck at the side of the Coyotes net. He tried feeding Patrick Marleau in front, but it was a charging Joe Pavelski who nearly jammed it home.

Later, on a power play, Marty Havlat stared at an open net before Smith somehow managed to get the end of his pad on the attempt with 2:50 to go in regulation.

In overtime, Smith denied Thornton's redirection attempt on a nice feed from Dan Boyle with 1:50 to go.

Niemis biggest save came with a minute left in regulation, when he stopped Whitney on the doorstep to force overtime.

The Sharks suffered a scary moment in the second, when a Brent Burns slap shot on the power play hit Clowe cleanly in the helmet with about 11 minutes to go. Clowe skated towards the bench in disgust, throwing his glove and smashing his stick before heading to the locker room. Television replays showed Clowe with a bloody mark on his forehead.

He returned at the start of the third, though.

The Coyotes opened the scoring at 6:31 of the first, when a turnover behind the Sharks net led to Daymond Langkow goal. The Sharks responded when Marleau forced Korpikoski into a turnover along the boards. Thornton picked it up and passed to Marleau, who scored just his second goal in the last 15 games at 8:09.

The Coyotes were without some key pieces. Captain Shane Doan was serving the second of a three-game suspension for elbowing Dallas Jamie Benn, while leading goal-scorer Radim Vrbata was out with a lower body injury. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin remained out with a lower-body injury.

Odds and ends: Joe Thornton moved into a tie for 40th all-time in the NHL in assists with Larry Robinson. ... The Sharks host the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.