The Arizona Coyotes finally got back to action tonight. It was a long week from Monday to Friday, especially after the terrible game they played against the Sabres to finish March. After sitting on that game for four days, you would think the Desert Dogs would come out fired up to prove themselves. Instead, they dug an insurmountable hole in the opening five minutes that they never recovered from.
Less than a minute into the game, Logan Couture found himself with some space entering the Coyotes zone. He fired a shot that redirected off of the stick of Klas Dahlbeck and over the glove of Coyote netminder Louis Domingue. One shot, one goal.
The game didn't improve much for Arizona afterwards. B.J. Crombeen was sent off for hooking at 2:57 of the opening period. The Sharks moved the puck well on the power play but didn't capitalize until Crombeen was released from the box. Couture's pass for Patrick Marleau was deflected by Oliver Ekman-Larsson into the corner. Marleau chased it down and made a perfect pass to Joe Pavelski, who was positioned right in front of Domingue. Michael Stone and Joe Vitale both watched as Pavelski calmly and easily roofed the puck over Domingue's glove for the Sharks' second goal five minutes into the game.
Arizona had one moment of almost brilliance later in the first. Sam Gagner and David Moss had a two on one entering the San Jose zone. Gagner passed to Moss, whose initial shot was stopped by Antti Niemi. Moss was checked into Niemi and the puck crossed the goal line but was immediately waved off. Not for goaltender interference, but because Moss pushed the puck across the line with his hand. The call on the ice would stand after video review.
Instead of a 2-1 game, it stayed 2-0 and that was all the Coyotes did in the opening period. They were outshot by San Jose 16-3 in the first 20 minutes and thoroughly outskated, outworked and outplayed.
The second period was markedly better for the Yotes. They actually didn't spend the entire frame penned into their own zone and had moments of offensive competency. They broke through early in the period as Mark Arcobello found room along the far right boards entering the Sharks' zone. Tobias Rieder was flashing toward the crease and Arcobello tried to hit him with the pass. Brent Burns kept the puck from getting to Rieder by using his stick to deflect the pass. Unfortunately, he redirected it into his own goal past Niemi. It was Arcobello's 8th goal since joining Arizona.
The Yotes almost tied later in the period when Sam Gagner had a possible two on one with Martin Erat. Burns slid to the ice to take away the pass, so Gagner took the shot and rang it off the crossbar. After two periods, the score stayed 2-1.
Matt Nieto added a third Shark goal late in the third off a rebound with very little defense played by John Moore and Brandon Gormley. Arizona pulled Domingue with over two minutes to go, but didn't get any quality chances through as shots either missed the net or were blocked. The Sharks got a much needed 3-1 win to keep their miniscule playoff hopes alive and the Coyotes didn't add more points to their total in their hunt for the league's worst record.
Our Three Stars of the Game
- 3rd Star - Antti Niemi - The Sharks goaltender was not busy early, but he had to come alive in the second and third to keep the Sharks from coughing up a two goal lead.
- 2nd Star - Logan Couture - Couture opened the scoring on the night and assisted on the Pavelski goal.
- 1st Star - Patrick Marleau - Marleau had two assists tonight, including a beautiful pass to Pavelski on the game winner.
- For the San Jose perspective, check out Fear the Fin.
- Arizona was outhsot 37-21 and had only 17 shots though 58 minutes of play.
- Antti Niemi did make 19 saves, but was obviously having trouble tracking the puck as he was fighting his positioning all night long. If the Coyotes had gotten more rubber on him, maybe it's a different outcome.
- Niemi did make one clutch save on Shane Doan from a bad angle. He made the initial save, but the puck popped into the air and was falling towards the net when Niemi snagged it with his glove.
- The Coyotes went 0 for 1 on the power play, but killed two San Jose advantages.
- Domingue made 34 saves in his first start since March 19th.
- McEichel update: The Sabres had a 3-2 lead with less than two minutes to go at home against Chicago. Then Captain Serious went to work and the Hawks won 4-3. In regulation. And there was much rejoicing.
Our Three Stars of the Game
- Logan Couture. Scored the quick strike opener and added an assist.Had five shots on goal and won 56% of his faceoffs.
- Joe Pavelski. Five shots and the game winning goal.
- Patrick Marleau. Two assists and led all Shark forwards in ice time, edging out Pavelski by three seconds.
The Road Ahead
The Coyotes and the Sharks get right back to work against each other, this time in Glendale. Game time is 6PM.