By Dave Vest | Anthony Perez
The San Jose Sharks stretched their lead in the Pacific Division standings to four points by defeating the Coyotes, 4-1, Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena.
Sharks rookie Logan Couture scored two goals and assisted on a third, and goalie Antti Niemi stopped 26 of 27 shots to lead first-place San Jose to its eighth consecutive win over the second-place Coyotes, who are chasing them with just two weeks left in the regular season.
Despite the loss, the Coyotes (41-25-11) remained in fourth place in the congested Western Conference standings with 93 points. The Sharks (44-23-9) are third with 97 points.
• Click here
to see the conference standings.
The Coyotes played the game without four injured players: Vernon Fiddler
, Martin Hanzal
, Ed Jovanovski
, and Lauri Korpikoski
. Still, they had plenty of chances to score but Niemi played well in goal for the Sharks.
"You can use injuries as an excuse all you want, but at the end of the night you should feel like you left everything on the ice," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "I thought we used the injuries as an excuse rather than a motivating factor and that’s disappointing.”
San Jose took a 1-0 lead at the 5:06 mark of the first period when Couture beat Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov
with a tap-in off the rebound of a shot from the right faceoff circle by Ryane Clowe.
Phoenix, which hadn't scored a first-period goal in six consecutive games, responded 77 seconds later when Mikkel Boedker
wristed a shot past Niemi moments after Phoenix won a faecoff in the San Jose zone.
The Sharks, however, took control of the game in the second period. At 3:35, Sharks center Joe Pavelski scored the game-winning goal when he backhanded a rebound past Bryzgalov (see KEY MOMENT
|Photo by Getty Images.
San Jose bumped its lead to 3-1 at the 15:17 mark of the second period when Clowe gathered a long rebound off Bryzgalov and ripped a shot past him from between the circles.
Couture scored his 30th goal of the season in the third period with a seemingly harmless shot that fooled Bryzgalov.
"Bryzgalov is such a good goaltender," Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said. "If you don’t get an opportunity on a second or a third chance you’re probably not going to win the game. We were lucky enough to get a couple off his pads and get those opportunities.”
The Coyotes and Sharks will play two more games this season - one at Phoenix on April 8 and one at San Jose on April 9.
• Forward Ryan Hollweg
, whom the team recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday, made his debut with the Coyotes. He played 7:56 and delivered two hits. Click here
to listen to Hollweg speak about his debut/first game in the NHL since 2008-09.
• With three centers out with injuries, winger Lee Stempniak
played center for the first time with the Coyotes.
• Defenseman Derek Morris
assisted on Mikkel Boedker
's goal. The assist was No. 300 for Morris in his NHL career.
• Forward Paul Bissonnette
played in his 100th NHL game.
• The Coyotes scratched Oliver Ekman-Larsson
, Vernon Fiddler
(lower-body injury), Martin Hanzal
(lower-body injury) and Lauri Korpikoski
(upper-body injury). Fiddler and Korpikoski are day-to-day.
• The Coyotes' next game is Tuesday vs. Dallas at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on XTRA Sports 9100 (AM).