SAN JOSE -- Joe Pavelski remained red-hot Saturday, and so did the San Jose Sharks.
Pavelski scored for the fourth straight game and added an assist, leading the Sharks to their fourth straight victory, a 3-2 shootout win against the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion.
Logan Couture opened the shootout and beat goaltender Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera to his glove side for the only goal. Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi stopped Steve Sullivan, Radim Vrbata and Mikkel Boedker in the breakaway competition to help San Jose earn a second point in the standings.
Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored for the Sharks in the third period and Niemi finished with 27 saves.
“When you're in a little stretch like this you're just trying to remind yourself to shoot the puck, and that's been a big part,” said Pavelski, who matched his career-long goal streak. “It's been a simple game. We've gotten a lot of pucks in deep. We got some good looks tonight. We got some really good looks.”
With 40 points, the Sharks moved past the Detroit Red Wings (39) and into sixth place in the Western Conference, one point behind the Los Angeles Kings. They're six points ahead of Phoenix, their Pacific Division rival.
Boyd Gordon and Vrbata scored for the Coyotes, who lost for the eighth time in their past nine games, and LaBarbera stopped 32 of 34 shots.
“We had chances to win, and (LaBarbera) gave us a huge chance to win, and we got to OT and we couldn't get any chances,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “We had the lead with five minutes to go, and we need to find a way to win. We have to find ways to win games. You have to give the Sharks credit for finding ways to get back into it.
“He's been phenomenal,” Doan said of LaBarbera. “Tonight he was unbelievable. He's sick and he's coughing. He's sick and he's still fighting through it.”
Pavelski has scored all four goals during his streak since moving from a second-line wing to the third-line center, skating between Ryane Clowe and TJ Galiardi. His first three goals were at even strength, but his goal against Phoenix came on a power play at 10:24 of the second period, as the Sharks pulled even after Gordon put the Coyotes up 1-0 with a goal late in the first period.
Vrbata put the Coyotes ahead 2-1 just 33 seconds into the third period. Wide open in the slot, Vrbata took a pass from Doan and ripped a shot that was denied by Niemi. But the Sharks goaltender couldn't control the rebound, and Vrbata moved in untouched for an easy goal, as defenseman Brent Burns got caught too low.
But with just five minutes left in the third, Pavelski fired the puck at LaBarbera, and Vlasic rammed the rebound into the net, pulling the Sharks even at 2-2.
The Sharks had a good chance to score midway through overtime when Burns hit Patrick Marleau just right of the crease with a pass, but he couldn't get the puck past LaBarbera.
With just over a minute left, Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal intercepted a Joe Thornton pass deep in San Jose's zone but couldn't beat Niemi. Phoenix center Antoine Vermette misfired just seconds later, and the Coyotes didn't get a shot on goal during a power play that lasted the final 12.6 seconds of overtime.
Just minutes later, Couture beat LaBarbera in the shootout.
“I just went in with speed and he’s a big guy,” Couture said. “Stopped up a little bit and saw some room in the five-hole and was able to put it there.”
Niemi entered the game after back-to-back shutouts and had a shutout streak of 121 minutes and 40 seconds. But his streak ended at 136:23 when Gordon scored at 14:43 of the first period.
Phoenix grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when Gordon ripped a rebound past Niemi from close range for his second goal of the season. Niemi had stopped a shot from Rob Klinkhammer, who controlled the puck behind the net and fired from just left of the crease, but Gordon beat him to the glove side.
The Sharks outshot Phoenix 14-11 in the first period, but trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes.
With No. 1 goaltender Mike Smith (upper body) on injured reserve, LaBarbera started against the Sharks for the second time this season.
The Sharks finally broke through against LaBarbera and pulled even on Pavelski's power-play goal at 10:24 of the second period, with Gordon in the box after drawing a four-minute penalty for high-sticking Sharks defenseman Justin Braun.
“It was a close game. I liked the way we competed tonight,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “It's our third game in four nights. The guys went to the wall. We're desperate for points right now. It came down to a shootout, and unfortunately we didn't get the extra point.”
FIVE FOR PHOENIX
1. Forward Radim Vrbata scored his eighth goal of the season and third in the last two games. Vrbata, who missed 14 games this season because of a lower-body injury, has scored all but one of his goals on the road.
2. After not scoring a goal in the team’s first 32 games, center Boyd Gordon has scored two goals in the past three games.
3. Forward Rob Klinkhammer notched an assist to extend his career-high point streak to four games. He also led the team with five hits.
4. Defenseman Keith Yandle played in his 400th NHL game.
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