SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Coyotes lost two key players soon after the puck dropped Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks, but they still nearly managed to pull off a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
San Jose won the preseason game, 5-4, in overtime at HP Pavilion.
Phoenix trailed 3-1 after two periods but scored three times within a 2:37 span of the third period to take a 4-3 lead.
Sharks captain Patrick Marleau, however, scored a power-play goal with 3:02 left in the third period, then won the game for San Jose with another goal 2:29 into overtime. Marleau’s game-winning shot ricocheted off Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek and into the net.
Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski played only four shifts because of a minor injury that the coaching staff deemed not worthy of aggravating in a preseason game. Meanwhile, center Vernon Fiddler played only three shifts because he received a game misconduct penalty after a fight in the first period.
“We lost two key players early, but I thought our goaltenders made good saves throughout the game, and I think from our young guys to our veterans we put forth a great effort,” forward Scottie Upshall said. “We were right there and could have beaten a good squad.”
Phoenix's Mitch Fritz got into a fight on his first shift with San Jose's Frazer McLaren with 14:18 left in the period. Shortly after that bout started, San Jose's Nick Petrecki tried to pick a fight with Coyotes forward Kyle Turris. Fiddler then stepped in and swapped punches with Petrecki and received the game misconduct penalty.
Ryan Clowe gave San Jose a 1-0 lead at 13:22 of the first period when he tapped a rebound past Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov just a few seconds after a slashing penalty to Phoenix's Justin Bernhardt expired.
Michalek was called for tripping 18 seconds into the second period. The Sharks scored 20 seconds later when Devin Setoguchi beat Bryzgalov with a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle.
San Jose scored again just 12 seconds after Turris was called for holding at 1:34. This time it was San Jose's Jamie McGinn who beat Bryzgalov on a slick passing exchange with Dan Boyle.
The Coyotes, who flew to San Jose just hours before the game, did not quit.
Phoenix finally beat Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov at 18:39 when forward Stefan Meyer knocked a loose puck into the San Jose net during a frenzied scrum in the crease.
Trailing 3-1 after two periods, the Coyotes replaced Bryzgalov with Jason LaBarbera at the start of the third period.
Phoenix pulled to within 3-2 at 6:01 when Bernhardt tucked a cross-crease pass from Meyer past Nabokov on a delayed San Jose penalty.
Michalek evened the score at 3 with a backhanded shot past Nabokov at 7:38. Upshall created the goal by stealing the puck in Phoenix's zone and racing into the San Jose zone up the right side.
Not content with a tie, the Coyotes scored again at 8:38 as Turris took a pass from Michalek at the left point and one-timed the puck past Nabokov 12 seconds into a power play.
Marleau took over the scoring from there.
While angered by the loss, Coyotes Associate Coach Ulf Samuelsson spoke positively about the bigger picture.
“We’re having a great camp so far and we are seeing a lot of guys push really hard this year,” Samuelsson said. “You can clearly see the level of competition between our guys paying off in these games.”
Dany Heatley made his debut with the Sharks, but the Coyotes kept him out of the scoring summary.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here to listen to an interview with Stefan Meyer.