Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
It was the home opener in San Jose and the Sharks had gone through western Canada like a hot knife through butter, but the Coyotes were coming off of a strong game in Glendale that saw them record their first win of the season.
The Coyotes held a 2 goal lead midway through the third, but their tired legs started to show and San Jose rallied for 4 straight to claim the 5-3 victory.
The first period was pretty much dominated by San Jose except for a brief push by the Coyotes on a power play chance. Jason LaBarbara stood tall and met the push from the Sharks despite several glorious chances. Although the Coyotes were able to kill off multiple penalties, including a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage early in the period, a late penalty on Derek Morris would become a power play goal for the Sharks with under a minute to play in the period. Logan Couture scored the goal deflecting in a shot from the point.
A complete role reversal in the second as it was the Coyotes controlling play for much of the period taking the play to the Sharks for large stretches of play. A few high sticking calls against San Jose would give the 'Yotes their own 2-man advantage and the Coyotes would keep the puck in the zone for a full 1:48 seconds before Steve Sullivan scored his 4th goal in the last two games to knot the game at 1-1. The Sharks fought back hard after the goal, but the Coyotes were able to stand tall and draw a late penalty to carry-over into the third period.
Both teams were a bit sloppy early in the period as the teams exchanged penalties, unsportsmanlike calls, and generally haphazard play. Somehow it would all work out for the Coyotes as they would strike twice in rapid succession. First, a tremendous defensive play by Keith Yandle allowed a break-out and some inadvertent goalie contact by Shane Doan (forced by Sharks d-man Garth Murray) allowed Antoine Vermette to give the 'Yotes a 2-1 lead. Shortly thereafter a sharp angle shot by Lauri Korpikoski trickled through Antti Niemi and the Coyotes lead was extended to 3-1.
The Sharks were not done though as they re-upped the pressure and a pretty pass from Joe Thornton found Patrick Marleau alone in front and the Coyotes lead was back down to one. A few minutes later and a broken stick and Martin Havlat forced one past Barbs and it was all tied up again at 3. As the Coyotes looked more and more tired, it was Marleau again that was able to streak in and beat LaBarbara to give the Sharks a 4-3 lead with just under 2 minutes to play. An empty netter for Joe Thornton would seal the deal as the Sharks moved to 3-0 on the season.
Five For Winning
1. Start Strong. The Sharks scored 6 goals in the first period against the Edmonton Oilers, which created a deficit that not even the high offense Oilers could come back from. The Coyotes need to start strong and prevent the Sharks from getting on the board. Coyotes weathered the early storm even if they did let San Jose get on the board first. It was the endgame that proved to be most problematic.
2. Defense. The Yotes have had some difficulties getting into their defensive system early in the season, but sooner or later they are going to need to click back into their system. Although things improved against the Blue Jackets, they still aren't up to level we expect them to be. The defense only really became a concern in the final twelve minutes as the team really started to look tired on the ice and San Jose was winning every puck battle.
3. Special Teams. In the first game against the Dallas Stars the Coyotes power play was actually able to make it happen, scoring twice. Last night with another 2 power play goals Phoenix really showed potential to not have terrible power play for a change. Coyotes scored another 2 power play goals, but also allowed 2 to the Sharks (one being the EN goal for Thornton). Overall, I'd say the special teams played pretty well.
4. Contributions from everyone. Tippett gave the 4th liners a lot of time against the Blue Jackets because the grinders were playing great. That kind of play needs to continue into this game, and hopefully we can see a goal or two scored from the 3rd or 4th line. It was a good game all around with a goal by Korpikoski in addition to the top line success, but they just died late in the game.
5. Stop getting hurt. 2 big players weren't able to play in yesterday's game (3 if you count Smitty leaving early). This injury bug needs to stop. Please? Another injury with Matthew Lombardi going down to the ominous sounding "upper body injury."
Our 3 Stars:
1. Patrick Marleau - a pair of goals including the game winner.
2. Antoine Vermette - a goal and solid play all around at both ends of the ice
3. Joe Thornton - three assists and the EN goal to wrap things up.
Comment of the Night:
The Coyotes get a day off before they get their first look at the team that eliminated them from last year's playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have yet to record a victory on the season and are coming off a crushing loss in Edmonton where they blew a lead with 5 seconds to play and then lost in OT. It would be nice for the Coyotes to exact just a little bit of revenge and keep the Kings safely in 15th spot of the Western Conference.