The Arizona Coyotes were determined to avoid the sluggish start that doomed them to fail in San Jose Friday night. They did so emphatically Saturday night.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson tied the franchise record for goals by a defenseman in a single season with two on the night as the Coyotes defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-3 at Gila River Arena. Mike Smith made 42 saves on the night.
Arizona did a much better job preventing the Sharks grom getting many early scoring chances in the opening minutes. Though Shane Doan took a hooking minor within the first five, San Jose was held off the scoresheet. The Coyotes would capitalize on their first power play however, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his 22nd of the season at 11:53 of the first thanks to a Karl Stollery penalty.
The Sharks would not take the OEL goal lying down though. Tomas Hertl scored a power play goal of his own at 16:36 thanks to a rare OEL interference penalty. Arizona would respond emphatically 2:21 later, when Shane Doan scored on the power play thanks to Barclay Goodrow's tripping minor. Arizona would take a 2-1 lead into the locker room.
In the second period, the Coyotes and Sharks largely settled down, as the first fifteen minutes of the second were largely devoid of action, apart from another Doan penalty. Arizona would take a two goal lead at 17:46 thanks to Oliver Ekman-Larsson's 23rd tally. It would take just 29 seconds for Joe Thornton and the Sharks to respond though, and the Coyotes' lead was back at one with twenty minutes to play.
The Coyotes would get their two goal lead back at 5:30 of the third, when Mark Arcobello scored his 17th of the season (eighth with Arizona). The Sharks would get another power play goal at 6:38, thanks to Chris Tierney. Arizona would be hard-press to hold off the Sharks, but a Sam Gagner empty netter at 19:49 made the score 5-3 and sealed the victory for the Coyotes.
Our Three Stars of the Game
3rd Star - Mark Arcobello - Arcobello scored the game winner and assisted on the opening goal of the game.
2nd Star - Shane Doan - A goal and two assists tonight. This game was a much needed lift for the embattled captain.
1st Star - Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Two goals, and an assist. He's been the team's best and most consistent producer all year long.
- For San Jose's perspective, check out Fear the Fin.
- Antti Niemi made the start for the Sharks after playing the night before in San Jose. He made 28 saves for an .875 save percentage.
- Mike Brown played only 3:46 for the Sharks in this game.
- San Jose won the shot attempts battle 86-68 on the evening.
- Ekman-Larsson's 23 goals tied Phil Housley for the most goals in a single season for a defenseman in franchise history.
- Eight Coyotes recorded points on the night.
- The Sharks are now five games out of the final Wild Card spot with three games remaining. They are effectively out of the playoffs.
- Attendance: 14,752.
Arizona goes on the road for the final time this season, as they head up north to play the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night.