By Dave Vest
SAN JOSE –Ilya Bryzgalov continued his outstanding play in goal this season, and Peter Mueller and Lauri Korpikoski scored shootout goals to lead the Coyotes to a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks Monday night at HP Pavilion.
Bryzgalov stopped 23 shots in regulation and three more in overtime to post his second shutout of the season and the 10th of his NHL career.
Only Dan Boyle got the puck past Bryzgalov, and his goal came late in the shootout. Moments later, Korpikoski beat Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov to end the game and Phoenix’s two-game losing streak.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said he chose Korpikoski, who played just 6:20 of the game and who was a healthy scratch on Saturday vs. Columbus, because he noticed his shootout skills in recent practices.
“I watch that stuff pretty close in practice and he’s a guy that caught my eye the first day and I continued to watch him and he’s been very good in the shootout,” Tippett said. “It was one of those things you just play a hunch and it turned out good for us.”
The Sharks entered the game averaging 4.5 goals in their past four games, but the Coyotes shut them down en route to their third road victory in four tries. Nabokov made 30 saves for San Jose.
Bryzgalov denied a five-hole shot by Dany Heatley to start the shootout, and later, a shot by San Jose’s Devin Setoguchi sailed wide to Bryzgalov’s right.
For Phoenix, Radim Vrbata went first in the shootout and tried to sneak a backhanded shot past Nabokov, who blocked it with a pad. Mueller went after Vrbata and put the puck under Nabokov’s glove and in the net after making a slick leg-kick move to freeze Nabokov.
After Boyle scored to make the shootout 1-1, Korpikoski took the ice, secured the puck on his stick, streaked toward Nabokov with good speed up the right side of the slot, crossed the crease and easily beat him with a shot to his stick side. Remarkably, it was the first shootout shot of his NHL career.
• Coyotes center Matthew Lombardi was a late scratch because of a lower body injury. Phoenix missed him in the faceoff circles as San Jose won 35 of the 54 draws.
• Enforcer Paul Bissonnette got into his first fight as a member of the Coyotes and got the better of San Jose’s Jody Shelley. The bout began seconds after Shelley cross-checked Martin Hanzal to the ice without drawing a penalty.
• Hanzal, whose job is always to defend the other team’s top center, played 24:26 and helped keep Joe Thornton, Heatley and Setoguchi off the scoring summary.
• The Coyotes scratched Lombardi and Kurt Sauer, who did not make the trip. San Jose scratched Brad Staubitz.
“We lost two games in a row and we desperately needed the points, especially when we play against a division team."
“It was great that he (Head Coach Dave Tippett) showed some trust in me and that I got the goal.”
“With the way our goaltending is that really makes everything so much easier on the road and at home. Our goaltending has been unbelievable.”