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Sharks win, now wait
3-2 shootout win puts SJ in conference lead
4/10/10 - By Mike Lee -

The regular season is in the books, so all the Sharks can do now is wait. After pulling out a 3-2 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion on Saturday night, the Sharks moved into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference, but the Chicago Blackhawks wrap up their regular season on Sunday afternoon in a matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. If the Blackhawks win, they will match the Sharks 113 points, but will win the conference by way of games won.

Chicago holds that tiebreaker by virtue of winning more games than San Jose . Detroit has little incentive in the season finale other then pride, because their playoff position is locked. They will square off against the Coyotes, who also had nothing to play for in Saturday night other than to establish some dominance over the Sharks heading into the second season.

“We better be prepared," said Sharks head coach Todd McLellan. "We don’t have any more time on our hands. We do have some individual team preparation that will take place over the next few days when we will actually know. As far as our foundation and how we want to play and some of our line combinations, we are where we want to be.”

Even though there was little motivation, the Coyote turned in a noble performance, matching the Sharks goal for goal even though they trailed twice throughout the evening.

Devin Setoguchi opened the game’s scoring at 4:04 of the opening period on a breakaway chance. Joe Pavelski set up the sequence with a cross ice pass from the left side. Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle fell down on the play allowing Setoguchi to waltz in on Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and snap a shot through the five-hole.

Logan Couture had an apparent goal waved off at 6:45 after referee Greg Kimmerly ruled Couture impeded Bryzgalov. Couture found himself between Bryzgalov and the Coyotes net after a wild scrum in front of the net. The puck lifted in the air and bounced off the netminder, landing in front of Couture.

The Sharks got the crowd energized before the first intermission by cycling the puck in the Phoenix zone for a good two minutes before Coyotes captain Shane Doan was able to lift it to safety.

Lee Stempniak tied the game 64 seconds into the 2nd period on a miscue and some bad luck. First Joe Thorton broke his stick on a clearing attempt that kept the puck in the Sharks zone. Then defenseman Douglas Murray took a passive approach to chasing down the puck behind the Sharks net. Stempniak skated around Murray and got the inside line as he skated around the left post wrapping a shot that caught Evgeni Nabokov in the skate, deflecting into the goal.

Patrick Marleau made it 2-1 at 12:41 of the period on a deflection after Dany Heatley sent in a shot from the high slot. The goal was originally credited to Heatley, which would have given him 40 goals on the season, but the official scorer changed it to Marleau later in the game.

The Coyotes once again countered by scoring right after the period break. Matthew Lombardi knotted the game at 2-2 just 1:47 into the 3rd period after the Sharks failed to gain control of the puck out in front of their own net. Lombardi grabbed a Doan deflection in the slot after Sharks defenseman Jason Demers over-skated the puck.

“I thought we had a lot of energy out of our workers," added McLellan. " Our workers brought our skill into the game tonight and that was so important. They worked in the corners, grounded out a lot, were pretty good defensively… some times the team has to be driven by those players and everyone else will adapt. We can’t always wait for the skill players to do it and tonight was one of those nights.”

A scoreless overtime period would send the game to the shootout, where Couture ended things in the 5th round. San Jose looked primed to end things with the mandatory three shooters after Pavelski and Ryane Clowe both bagged their attempts, but Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata bailed Bryzgalov out by scoring on Phoenix ’s 2nd and 3rd attempt.

Dan Boyle and Adrian Aucoin both missed in the 4th round, then Couture scored on a backhand deek that finaished with the puck sliding between Bryzgalov’s pads. Nabokov ended things by denying Doan’s backhand chance.

“We actually thought about using him earlier," McLellan said of his decision to use Couture in the shootout. " He had been successful in Worcester and in Junior in that situation. He is a shooter that Bryzgalov obviously wouldn’t know and we went with it. It is a lot of pressure for a young man but he has handled every little bit that has been put on him since has been here and he will get a taste of more of it next week.”

Game Notes:

Joe Thornton's helper on Marleau's goal was 646th career assist, moving him past Bobby Orr on the all-time NHL assist list.


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Scoring
1 2 3 OT SO T
PHO 0 1 1 0 0 2
SJ 1 1 0 0 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Setoguchi 20 (Pavelski, Murray), 4:04.
2nd period - 2, PHO, Stempniak 28 (unassisted), 1:04. 3, SJ, Marleau 44 (Heatley, Thornton), 12:41.
3rd period - 4, PHO, Lombardi 18 (Doan, Wolski), 1:47.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Pavelski (goal), Clowe, (goal), Heatley (miss), Boyle (miss), Couture (goal). PHO: Stempniak (miss), Korpikoski (goal), Vrbata (goal), Aucoin (miss), Doan (miss).
Penalties
1st period - Bryzgalov, PHO (delay of game – puck over glass), 4:29.
2nd period - None.
3rd period - Lepisto, PHO (holding), 7:24.
Overtime - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
PHO - Bryzgalov 30 28
SJ - Nabokov 29 27
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
PHO 8 12 6 3 30
SJ 10 13 7 0 29
Power Play Conversion
PHO 0 of 0
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Evgeni Nabokov
Ryane Clowe
Ilya Bryzgalov
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Kimmerly, Leggo. Linesmen: Heyer, Murray.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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