PHOENIX Looking to build off of some better efforts in their previous two losses, the Sharks instead took another step backwards in a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night.
The Sharks will wake up on Sunday morning out of the Western Conferences top eight, after losing their fifth straight game (0-3-2) and 14th in their last 18 (4-11-3). They have just 15 games remaining in the regular season, and appear to have no answers for how to reverse their shocking slide.
Even worse, the Sharks had a great opportunity in their last two games against division rivals they are battling with for position, but lost in a shootout to Dallas on Thursday night, 4-3, before Saturday nights letdown.
After a scoreless first, the Coyotes scored the only two goals of the second period.
After a long shift in the Sharks zone, Phoenix finally capitalized when Michael Boedker deposited the rebound of a shot by Marc-Antoine Pouilot at 13:58. Just prior to the goal, Antti Niemi made a nice save on a shot by Gilbert Brule in the slot, while Pouilot just missed tapping in a loose puck at the side of the net. The Coyotes maintained possession, though, and finally broke the scoreless tie.
The Coyotes made it 2-0 on Michael Stones first career NHL goal. After a bad giveaway by Dominic Moore in the offensive zone led to a rush the other way, Pouiliot fed the defenseman Stone for a one-timer that rang in off of the far post at 18:10.
Stone, who had one assist in his first seven NHL games, recorded the first multi-point game of his career.
Stones goal was the backbreaker for the Sharks, as Phoenix used the momentum early in the third in increasing its lead to 3-0. Raffi Torres scored just 39 seconds after the faceoff, depositing a rebound from Shane Doan.
The Sharks had the better of the chances early in the game, but couldnt find a way to beat Mike Smith. Daniel Winnik was stopped on a breakaway three minutes into the game, and a defelction by Marc-Edouard Vlasic on a pass from Wingels with 13:30 left was turned aside.
Niemis best stops of the night came when he denied Shane Doan on a breakaway as well as the follow-up rebound try by Raffi Torres with 12:20 to go in the first. He was outplayed by Smith, though, who made 42 saves to record his fifth shutout. Niemi stopped 26 of 29 Coyotes shots.
The Sharks had a pair of power plays before the Coyotes scored, but couldnt capitalize. They have now gone six straight games without a goal on the man advantage, a season high, and are 0-for-14 on the man advantage after failing in three opportunities against Phoenix.
Odds and ends: Ray Whitney had a penalty shot with 9:28 to go in the third, but hit the post. ... The Sharks visit Edmonton on Monday and Calgary on Tuesday.