By Jerry Brown | NHL.com Correspondent
GLENDALE --Mike Smith just needed a few days to decompress. Michael Stone just needed a chance to impress. Together they teamed up to give the Coyotes just what they needed – their first win in March.
Smith, who had allowed 13 goals in four starts to open the month, bounced back with this fifth shutout of the season and his second over San Jose as the Coyotes (34-25-10) rode Stone's first NHL goal and an assist to a 3-0 win over the Sharks on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena to snap a five-game winless streak.
Forward Mikkel Boedker and grinder Raffi Torres sandwiched goals around Stone's tally during a seven-minute span of the second and third periods for the Coyotes, who were 0-4-1 in March. Smith, the NHL's First Star in February, sat out Thursday's 3-2 shootout loss to Minnesota to work with goalie coach Sean Burke. Whatever Burke did worked -- Smith looked confident and in control, keeping the swarming Sharks (33-25-9) at bay until the Coyotes finally solved San Jose's Antti Niemi.
"It's a huge, gutsy win for our team," said Smith, who was 11-0-0 in February but struggled after the calendar turned to March. "I know I hadn't played my best this last week and it's a tough time not to play up to your potential. It's been frustrating, but I knew tonight was another big win for our team. When everyone plays like we did tonight we're a tough team to beat."
Smith made 42 saves.
The Coyotes held on to seventh place in the Western Conference standings with 78 points, while the Sharks fell to 2-8-3 over their last 13 games and dropped to ninth with 75 points -- one behind Colorado, which beat Edmonton 3-2 earlier in the day.
"Their (goalie) played really well and ours probably got outdueled a little bit," San Jose Head Coach Todd McClellan said of Niemi, who made 26 saves. "We can talk about goaltending all we want… but we didn't get our pitcher any runs to play with."
The Coyotes, who were outscored 10-1 in the first period of the last five games, were outshot 6-0 in the first four minutes, but Smith was sharp and turned away good scoring chances by Dan Winnik and Dan Boyle. Just getting out of the period even felt like a victory of sorts for Phoenix, who had trailed 2-0 in the first during each of its last five games.
“We knew they were going to come at us hard that first period," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "They didn’t disappoint us. We weathered the storm. Smith was excellent through the whole game, but especially early in the game. I think just where we have been the last few games, we needed to have something good happen to us and we did."
With the game still scoreless in the second period, that quintet cycled in the San Jose zone for more than a minute until Stone pinched from the right point to keep up the pressure. He put a shot on net that was stopped by Niemi, but the rebound dribbled into the slot and Boedker put it up and in at 13:58.
The goal was Boedker's ninth goal of the season – but just his second in the last 30 games – and it gave his team its first lead in exactly two weeks. The last time Phoenix led a game during regulation was seven games ago, when they finished off a 3-1 win in Edmonton.
Less than five minutes later, the same five skaters struck again. Boedker beat the pack to a puck behind the San Jose net to start things and Pouliot spotted Stone starting a shift and sneaking in from the point with a backhand feed. Stone put the shot through traffic and off the far post at 18:10 and the Coyotes had a 2-0 lead.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
Leading 2-0, the Coyotes put the game away on the first shift of the third period with another hard-working effort.
Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made a save on a shot by Coyotes captain Shane Doan, but a rebound found its way to Raffi Torres, who fired it home for his 12th goal of the season and his third in the past six games.
► Click here to see the KEY MOMENT.
• Defenseman Michael Stone scored Phoenix's second goal at 18:10 of the second period. It was his first NHL goal. Earlier in the period, Stone assisted on forward Mikkel Boedker's goal. It was his first multi-point game in the NHL. Click here to listen to Stone discuss his first NHL goal and the game in general.
• Goalie Mike Smith has been especially stingy against the Sharks. Since falling behind 6-0 on opening night in San Jose and losing 6-3, Smith has beaten the Sharks three straight times, allowing just three goals and registering two shutouts. He has 16 career shutouts.
• Forward Ray Whitney failed to score on a penalty shot with 10:32 to go in the third period. Neither Whitney nor forward Radim Vrbata notched a point in the game. Remarkably, the win was the first for the Coyotes in a game without a point from Whitney or Vrbata since Nov. 15 at Toronto.
• Center Marc-Antoine Pouliot, whom the Coyotes recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday, played 9:12 and chipped in two assists.
• Defenseman Rostislav Klesla returned to the lineup after missing 10 games because of an upper-body injury. Paired with rookie Michael Stone, Klesla played 18:12, blocked a team-high five shots and delivered four hits. Click here to listen to Klesla discuss his first game back.
• The Coyotes' next game is Monday vs. the Nashville Predators at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona Plus and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
"It's nice to get a goal that helps the team win. I don't even think I looked at the net. I just hit it as hard and I could and it managed to go in. Nice placement, I guess."
"We play best when we have the lead and we know that. We're comfortable in front and (Mike Smith) played great tonight again and that's what we need down the stretch here."
"We had a lot of Grade-A chances on our end and we didn't put the puck away. Then we make a few mistakes defensively and it's in the back of our net."