For just under 40 minutes, the Phoenix Coyotes absolutely dominated the San Jose Sharks en route to a commanding 3-0 lead seemingly headed towards the second intermission. Then, an unlucky bounce allowed Joe Pavelski to score with just seconds remaining in the second period, and the Sharks carried the momentum through the third handing the Coyotes a shocking 5-3 loss, ending the Coyotes 5 game road winning streak.
The turning point for the game came when Sharks coach Todd McClellan made the move to pull goalie Antti Niemi for Alex Stalock, playing in his first ever NHL game. The Coyotes failed to take advantage of the rookie netminder (occasionally getting too fancy, occasionally just missing the net) and Stalock played a very solid game in what looked at first to be mop-up duty in recording his first career victory.
Joe Pavelski would add his second of the game early in the third, and then a Kyle Wellwood second effort would tie the game with fifteen minutes to play. At this point, every bounce was going the Sharks' way as on every Sharks goal a pass was deflected by the Coyotes defense into the front of the net and into a position where Ilya Bryzgalov simply could not make the necessary saves. The game winning goal would be a real back-breaker as Patrick Marleau scored on a shorthanded breakaway after Kyle Turris lost his stick and could do nothing to slow Marleau as he streaked into the zone. Joe Thornton ended the scoring with an empty netter after the Coyotes failed to get a shot through the traffic with Bryz on the bench in the final minute.
For the Coyotes, a very solid road first period was capped off with two goals as the Desert Dogs brought the needed pressure into HP Pavilion. Radim Vrbata deflected a Shane Doan shot on the power play to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead and Keith Yandle took advantage of a slow line change to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead going into the break. Midway through the second period, Paul Bissonnette converted on a one-timer from Oliver Ekman-Larsson (perhaps practiced from his All Star Skills challenge) for his first goal of the season. BizNasty's goal chased Antti Niemi, but that appeared to be the Sharks' secret weapon all along as the Coyotes failed to put one past the rookie Stalock.
Bullet Point Notes From the Game:
- Versus sucks. Seriously. According to my Directv guide, Versus has an alternate station so they can show multiple things at the same time. As the Rangers-Penguins game ran into overtime, Versus just left their alternate station running nothing as the first 11 minutes of the Coyotes game was played with no TV coverage. You want to be taken seriously, Versus? Don't pull crap like this!
- No goals were scored in those first 11 minutes. It sounded like Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton had a good 2-on-1 opportunity off of a turnover by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Radim Vrbata had a decent opportunity on a deke move? It was not entirely clear but Bob Heethuis got pretty excited about it and the highlight during intermission showed it was a pretty sweet move by Vrby.
- Punk Dany Heatley came in hard against an engaged Ed Jovanovski with a bit over 5 minutes to go in the first and Jovo went down the tunnel after he was finally able to get up.
- During the Heatley penalty, the Coyotes did a good job controlling play and cashed in on a deflection by Radim Vrbata on a blast from Shane Doan. Coyotes have scored a power play goal in 6 consecutive games.
- On a poor change by the Sharks, Keith Yandle jumped into the play and scored on a Scottie Upshall special (ripped over the glove!). The goal extends Yandle's point streak to 10 games, longest current streak in the NHL!
- Coyotes play a fabulous road period to start the post-all star break run (at least a great last 9 minutes or so) and take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
- Good play continued in the early second period although no great shots of note, but kept the Sharks from establishing any solid pressure either.
- The bizarro Bissonnette-Ebbett-Korpikoski line was really throwing the body around against the Thornton line and even got a decent opportunity out of it, but Ebbett couldn't get his stick on the puck.
- The Upshall-Turris-Doan unit had two great scoring opportunities. Patrick Marleau made a great back check to prevent Turris from putting in a rebound off of an Upshall shot and then Turris came in at a rush and had a good shot himself.
- After almost scoring on a rebound effort, Paul Bissonnette scored his first goal of the season on a one timer from the slot off a beautiful feed from OEL. The goal chased Antti Niemi from the game and brought in Alex Stalock for his first ever NHL game.
- Jamal Mayers decided he wanted a piece of Bissonnette, but BizNasty didn't drop the gloves and Mayers got a 10 minute misconduct.
- Several nice scoring opportunities for the Vrbata-Hanzal-Whitney line, but Stalock made the saves necessary. Coyotes still trying to be too cute with the noob goalie.
- A bad turnover by OEL led to a bad tripping penalty by Belanger. On the ensuing powerplay, an unfortunate break as a deflected pass by Derek Morris ended up sitting in the crease for Joe Pavelski to bang it in. Last minute goal stings and the Coyotes need to squash any momentum early in the third.
- Another deflection off a d-man (Lepisto this time) throws off Bryz's timing and Pavelski is there to put in another rebound in the crease a little over a minute into the third. Shark Tank is buzzing and Coyotes need to bear down.
- The tying goal from Kyle Wellwood is frustrating as Wellwood parks in front of the net and then bats a pass deflected by Adrian Aucoin out of mid-air into the net after his first attempt goes in and out of Bryz's glove. Neither Yandle or Hanzal made a play on Wellwood to move him out of the front.
- Devon Setoguchi had a breakaway chance that he was unable to convert on when Bryz made the save. Then it was an all-out assault with shots from Wellwood, Ben Eager and others leading to a Sami Lepisto holding penalty.
- After the Coyotes drew a powerplay, a mishandled puck between Yandle and Turris allows Patrick Marleau to come down on a shorthanded breakaway and he buries it to give San Jose their first lead of the night with only 6 minutes to play.
- With Bryz on the bench, Coyotes can't get the shot on net that they need and Joe Thornton ice it with an empty-netter.
OUR THREE STARS
1 - Joe Pavelski - cashes in on two fortuitous bounces to get the Sharks back in it and then assists on Marleau's game winner.
2 - Alex Stalock - comes in and shuts it down for the Sharks in earning his first career NHL win in what should have been simple mop up duty.
3 - Paul Bissonnette - scores his first goal of the season and played fairly well throughout the game.
COMMENT OF THE NIGHT
Time for this ugly hockey night to turn around.
-Carl Putnam [it really looked like it would for 39.5 minutes and then as with the rest of the night, it pretty much sucked]
Coyotes get right back in action tomorrow night at home against the best in the west Vancouver Canucks. A big opportunity for the Coyotes to right the ship at home and get this game in the rearview mirror. Still have 30 games in the season and Coach Tippett will not allow this one loss to break the team, but they can't afford to go on a losing stretch here.