Sharks stick with game plan in comeback win
Joe Pavelski (8) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against Coyotes in the second period. (AP)
SAN JOSE – Marc-Edouard Vlasic tied it in the third period and the Sharks won their fourth straight game, 3-2 over Phoenix in a shootout on Saturday at HP Pavilion.
San Jose moved into sixth place in the Western Conference, and is now 11-1-4 at home.
Vlasic’s great effort tied the game with five minutes left in regulation. The defenseman took a wrist shot from the circle and retrieved his own rebound, skating it behind the net. He fed Joe Pavelski for a shot and then deposited Pavelski’s rebound inside the far post for his second of the year.
Logan Couture scored the only goal in the shootout on the first attempt, and Antti Niemi turned away all three Phoenix attempts to give San Jose the all-important extra point in the standings.
Phoenix lost for the eighth time in its last nine games (1-5-3).
The score was tied at 1-1 after 40 minutes, but Sharks got behind early in the third on Radim Vrbata’s goal just 33 seconds into the final frame. Vrbata found open ice between the circles had time to redirect a pass from Shane Doan and follow up his own rebound to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead.
Each team had its opportunities in overtime. Brent Burns found Patrick Marleau in front of the net with a hard shot-pass, but Jason LaBarbara held his ground.
Antoine Vermette stripped Ryane Clowe in the neutral zone and his backhander hit Niemi before trickling harmless past the far post. The Coyotes went to the power play with 12 seconds left, but Vrbata's shot was knocked away by Logan Couture who dove in front of the blast.
The Sharks tied it in the second period when Rob Klinkhammer went to the penalty box on a double-minor for high sticking Justin Braun.
Phoenix killed off the first two minutes, but Pavelski’s point shot had eyes and beat LaBarbara at 10:24. Pavelski’s 11th increased his goal-scoring streak to four games, after he had just one in his previous 18.
The Sharks outplayed and outshot the Coyotes in the first period, but came away empty handed. Phoenix took a 1-0 lead when Boyd Gordon cleaned up a loose puck in front of the net at 14:43.
San Jose had a number of great chances early. Clowe was stopped on the doorstep after a nifty set up by Pavelski about six minutes into the game, while a Dan Boyle shot nearly deflected in with eight minutes to go. Patrick Marleau hit the post soon after that.
Burns saw his three-game goal streak come to an end, playing defense for the first time since Feb. 23 in Dallas when he suffered a left leg injury. Burns had played the previous nine games as a forward, recording 10 points (5g, 5a).
The Sharks visit Phoenix twice before the end of the season, on April 11 and 24.
The Sharks didn’t have a single power play in their previous game against Detroit, the first time that’s happened this season and fourth time in team history. They finally got one in the second period on Klinkhammer’s double-minor.
Phoenix only had 13 seconds of power play time, coming at the end of overtime.
Niemi, who shut out the Ducks and Red Wings earlier this week, saw his shutout streak come to an end at 136:23 on Gordon’s goal. He made 28 saves through overtime.
LaBarbera stopped 33 Sharks shots at the other end.
The Coyotes remain without last year’s playoff hero Mike Smith, who missed his fourth straight game with an upper body injury.
Jason Demers missed the game due to injury, possibly feeling the effects of a hit to the head by Detroit’s Cory Emmerton on Thursday.
With Burns at forward, Adam Burish returned after sitting for two in a row as a healthy scratch.
The Sharks recalled rookie defenseman Matt Tennyson from Worcester before the game, but he didn’t make it to San Jose in time to be an option.
The Sharks will play the fourth of a seven-game homestand on Monday when they host the Vancouver Canucks. Minnesota, Calgary and Dallas also visit HP Pavilion before San Jose resumes its road schedule on April 9 at Columbus.