It is not yet Canadian Thanksgiving, but the Arizona Coyotes sure have one thing to be thankful for -- Friday's game was only a preseason affair.
The Coyotes were severely outplayed in their preseason finale, falling to the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in a physical game.
Between the myriad of hard hits, illegal hits and face punching, a goaltenders duel broke out.
Mike Smith kept the Coyotes in the game, stopping 31 of 33 shots. Alex Stalock played as well as anyone can ask, saving 23 of 24 shots, in the midst of his goaltending battle with Antti Niemi.
In the battle of no No. 1 centers (both Joe Thornton and Antoine Vermette did not play), the Sharks came out flying.
San Jose dominated play from the drop of the puck and got on the board early. Matt Nieto backhanded his own rebound past Smith just 1:08 into the game. In fact, San Jose dominated most of the opening frame, outshooting the Coyotes 16-8.
In a play of either frustration or poor judgment, Kyle Chipchura boarded Logan Couture, earning himself a five minute major. Justin Braun immediately went after Chipchura, getting an instigator penalty in the process. The Coyotes killed off the two minutes of 4v4 and the three minute power play to remain within one.
The physical play picked up in period two as there were numerous scrums and one fight, between B.J. Crombeen and Tye McGinn. Arizona showed late life in the period, controlling the puck in the offensive zone for most of the final two minutes.
However, Arizona would regret not putting one past Stalock in the second as the Sharks found the back of the net late in the third period to extend their lead. With Smith flailing on the ice in an attempt to retrieve his stick, the Sharks calmly passed the puck around until it landed on the stick of McGinn who smacked it home for his first goal of the preseason.
The Coyotes answered right back as Rob Klinkhammer picked up the puck in the right faceoff circle, shot it, retrieved his rebound off a Sharks defender and beat Stalock top shelf. The brief comeback ended after Michael Stone faked out his entire team by hesitating on a dump in attempt and San Jose got the puck. The Sharks skated down the ice and Tommy Wingles scored into the empty net.
Arizona ends the preseason with back-to-back losses after being unbeaten in regulation through the first six games. The Yotes finish with a record of 4-2-2.
- San Jose's perspective: Fear The Fin
- Arizona was outshot 34-24 in the game.
- Justin Hodgman and Matt Smaby both played in the game and are both on the bubble to be the final roster cut.
- The teams combined for 61 penalty minutes.
- Sam Gagner played both RW and C
- Alex Stalock: Saved all but one shot.
- Mike Smith: Stopped 31 of 33 shots and kept the Yotes in a game they had no business hanging around.
- Matt Nieto: The opening goal and an all-around solid night.