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Phoenix Coyotes at San Jose Sharks Recap: Smith Saves, Vermette Wins

The Coyotes returned to San Jose for the first time since an uninspiring 4-1 defeat in October. Antoine Vermette scored early, the penalty kill had a lot of work and the Coyotes prevailed in a shootout victory.

Thearon W. Henderson

The Phoenix Coyotes played their first road game of the season in San Jose on October 5th. The San Jose Sharks swarmed them early and often en route to an easy 4-1 victory. The Coyotes knew they needed to play a better game tonight to have any chance to escape with points from this visit to the Shark Tank.

The Sharks started that first game by scoring a goal 46 seconds after the opening face-off. The Coyotes decided to do them one better tonight. Mikkel Boedker kept a Sharks clearing attempt from leaving the zone, Rob Klinkhammer got to the open puck and gave a pass to Antoine Vermette. Vermette made no mistake and put the shot past Antti Niemi 36 seconds into the opening period.

With the early goal, the Coyotes hoped to take control of the game, but a questionable elbowing penalty call against Martin Hanzal would put the Sharks on the man advantage. The Coyotes would kill that one and then spent most of the final five minutes of the first on the PK, after a Radim Vrbata double minor for high-sticking with 5:21 left in the period. The Sharks wouldn't score, but thanks to the six minutes of power play time, they enjoyed a 16-7 shots advantage after the opening 20 minutes.

The Sharks would come out blazing to start the second period, continuing the trend they finished the first on. Keith Yandle would make a bad pinch and the Coyotes forwards had trouble communicating on a line change leading to a two on one rush against Smith. Joe Pavelski would carry the puck over the blue line and then wrist a laserbeam right over Mike Smith's glove to even the game at the 1:16 mark of the period. Following a Kyle Chipchura penalty for slashing at 3:49, the Sharks power play would finally cash in. The Coyotes would fail to clear the puck after a couple of opportunities and the puck would end up on Dan Boyle's stick in the left circle. Smith went down on the shot, but Boyle put a perfect shot high over his glove shoulder to give the Sharks the lead at 5:10 of the second.

With momentum clearly in the Sharks favor, the Coyotes would need a big play to get back in the game. Following his mistake that helped lead to the Sharks' first goal, Yandle would provide that big play. Joe Thornton made a great pass to get Tomas Hertl behind the Coyotes' d, but Yandle would strip the puck from Hertl from behind as he broke in on Smith. Derek Morris would get to the loose puck and get it up to Mikkel Boedker. Boedker rushed in from the blue line down the right side, blew past Marc-Edouard Vlasic and would slide the puck under Niemi's blocker off the far post and in to tie the game at 8:57.

After getting the equalizing goal, the Coyotes began to take control of the five on five portion of the game. Unfortunately, they couldn't keep the game at full strength enough, as they would take a too many men on the ice penalty late in the second period. The penalty kill came through again and the second period ended tied at 2-2, although the Sharks had a huge 31-14 advantage in shots.

The third period would begin with another Coyote penalty as Zbynek Michalek was whistled for high sticking 41 seconds into the period, but Mike Smith made some more big saves and the penalty kill would survive another Shark advantage. Smith was great on the night, facing 50 shots and stopping 48 of them. He bailed out his defense on more than one occasion after costly end zone turnovers led to Shark scoring chances. Neither team could get the go ahead tally in the third and the game went to overtime.

The Coyotes were the better team in the extra time and had the best scoring chance when Oliver Ekman-Larsson would corral a loose puck from in front of Niemi and would chip a pass to the right post to a wide open Mike Ribeiro. Unfortunately, the puck was bounicng and Ribs couldn't get all of his shot and Niemi would make the save while sprawled on the ice.

Following 65 minutes of actual hockey, the game would be decided in the shootout. The Sharks would send out Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Jason Demers. The Coyotes answered with Boedker, Vrbata and Ribeiro. Couture beat Smith to the blocker after Smith came way out of the crease, Boedker shot his attempt off the post as did Pavelski. Vrbata would score when he flipped the script on Niemi going backhand then forehand and Demers and Ribeiro would both be stopped. Hertl went next for the Sharks and shot high over the net. David Rundblad followed for the Coyotes but Niemi made the save. Patrick Marleau would try to get the puck through Smith's five hole, but was stymied. Tippett would turn to Antoine Vermette to be the Coyotes next shooter. After starting the scoring in the game, Vermette would win it by slipping the puck through Niemi's pads for the shootout victory.

Paw Prints

  • Both teams won 31 face-offs on the evening. Mike Ribeiro was the Coyotes' best face-off man, winning seven of his ten draws. The Sharks dominated the circle while on the power play however, winning 11 of 14 face-offs leading to 21 shots with the man advantage.
  • The Sharks out shot the Coyotes 50 to 30 on the night. The Coyotes did have the only shots in the overtime however, getting seven to San Jose's zero.
  • The penalty kill was huge on the evening for Phoenix, as they killed five of six disadvantages. The power play wasn't nearly as good, going zero for four.
  • OEL had another great night, playing 31:01 and leading the team with four shots on goal while skating to a plus two. Zbynek Michalek blocked seven shots and is second in the NHL with 48 on the season.
  • Logan Couture had 10 shots on goal.
  • With the victory, Dave Tippett became the franchise's all time winningest coach with 166.
  • Mike Ribeiro appeared in his 800th career NHL game.

Our Three Stars of the Game

1. Mike Smith - Stopped 48 of 50 shots and four of five in the shootout. He's stopped 95 of 100 shots he has seen against the Sharks this season.

2. Antoine Vermette - Opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season. Played 23:06, had four shots and four blocked shots and won 14 of 28 face-offs, which is actually an off night for him.

3. Joe Pavelski - Had a goal and assist for his 15th and 16th points of the season. Was a general thorn in the Coyotes' side all night long.

Comment of the Night

this is going to be one of those games where Smith needs to stand on his head. Lets hope he is up to it

by Carl Pavlock on Nov 2, 2013 | 7:44 PM

Carl had the prediction of the night, less than ten minutes into the game.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes return to Glendale for their first regular season matchup with new division opponent, the Vancouver Canucks. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm on Tuesday, November 5th.