|SJS||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
|PHX||0||2||1||(0 - 0)||3|
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.
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"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."
The "good" came from a makeshift fourth line of Boedker, Marc-Antoine Pouliot – up from the American Hockey League to replace the injured Martin Hanzal – and Gilbert Brule along with the third defense pair of Stone and Rostislav Klesla, who was back in the lineup after a 10-game injury absence.
|Photo by Getty Images|
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.
|Mikkel Boedker (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Michael Stone (2), Marc-Antoine Pouliot (3)|
1 - 0 PHX
|Michael Stone (1) Slapshot - ASST: Marc-Antoine Pouliot (4), Gilbert Brule (5)|
2 - 0 PHX
|Raffi Torres (12) Wrist shot - ASST: Shane Doan (22), Keith Yandle (30)|
3 - 0 PHX
|Mike Smith Delaying Game-Ill. play goalie|
|Keith Yandle Slashing against Torrey Mitchell|
|Logan Couture Tripping against Keith Yandle|
|Adrian Aucoin Hi-sticking against Dominic Moore|
|SA: 29||TOI: 59:49|
|Saves: 26||EV: 24 - 27|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: .897||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 42||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 42||EV: 34 - 34|
|PIM: 2||PP: 8 - 8|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 0 - 0|