Sharks battle Coyotes to shootout win

HP PAVILION — There are those games where a box score does little to show how hard a team battled. Saturday night’s San Jose Sharks game was a prime example.

The Sharks would get the win 3-2 in a shootout over the Phoenix Coyotes and gain two points in the conference standings. But by the way they played fans, could have expected them to have won by a larger margin — in regulation.

Captain Joe Thornton talked about the importance of getting the win, and the points:

Sharks Center Joe Thornton

“They’re a tough team to play against. They’re good defensively, good face-off team. … Good competitive game, we stuck with it and ended up with the two points. Big big two points.”

San Jose would get to work putting the pressure on Phoenix goaltender Jason LaBarbera early in the first period, though he would be there to block their first several, rather fancy, attempts.

It would be C0yotes that scored first with 5:17 left in the first period, as Boyd Gordon would stop short in the blue paint to chip the loose puck past a kneeling Antti Niemi. It would be Gordon’s second goal of the season.

San Jose would outshoot and otherwise out play Phoenix 14-11, though none of those shots would get past LaBarbera.

The Sharks would gain momentum on their first power play opportunity in the second period, with several shots going wide, and two shots hitting the crossbar.

Then, at 10:24 with less than a minute left on the man advantage, Joe Pavelski would extend his goal-scoring streak to four games with a gorgeous long shot past LaBarbera to tie the game at 1-1. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau would pick up assists.

Pavelski was humble when talking about his goal streak:

“When you’re on a little stretch like this, you’re just trying to remind yourself to ‘shoot the puck.’ And that’s been a big part, it’s been a simple game.”

The Coyotes would open up the third period with a goal by Radim Vrbata on his own rebound to take the 2-1 lead at :33 seconds.

The scoreboard did little to show how hard both teams were working to add to their scores, until five minutes left in regulation, when Marc-Edouard Vlasic would slide the puck diagonally past LaBarbera’s glove to tie the game 2-2.

Niemi would be on his game for the final minutes of regulation, keeping the Coyotes from breaking the tie and taking the game into overtime.

Both teams would put on a nail-biter 4-on-4 overtime right up until the 12.6 second mark, when Ryane Clowe would pull a penalty and put Phoenix on their first power play of the game.

The Coyotes would be unable to put the puck in the net though, courtesy of a game-saving, on-one-knee block from Logan Couture.

The clock would wind down on overtime play, sending the Sharks into yet another home shootout.

Fresh off his defensive contribution, Couture would get the lone goal of the shootout to give the Sharks the 3-2 victory.

Coach Todd McLellan attributed the win to confidence:

Sharks Coach Todd McLellan

“I don’t think it was a perfect night by any means. The few mistakes we made, they capitalized on, and they’re the type of team that can frustrate you. . . But nice to see us dig in and come back, and find a way to get the two points. Tonight, I think the confidence is going up.”

The San Jose Sharks continue their homestand hosting the Vancouver Canucks Monday. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.