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It's not a dream, Sharks win again
Big 3 and Niemi come up big on MLK Day
1/17/11 - By Mike Lee -

Coming off their first win in two weeks on Saturday, the Sharks followed it up with a big win on the road on Martin Luther King’s birthday in Phoenix. San Jose got goals from all three of their top line forwards and a power play tally from Logan Couture to knock off the Coyotes 4-2. Goaltender Antti Niemi made 34 saves to earn his second consecutive victory.

The win was magnified by the fact that it came against a division foe. San Jose is playing a stretch of eight games against Western Conference teams. With the standings so tightly packed right now, a loss can mean the difference between making the playoffs or not.

With all the focus and urgency on reclaiming a playoff spot, it was easy to overlook the fact that Patrick Marleau was playing in his 1000th game. Marleau would have been the youngest player to reach mark had the NHL not had a work stoppage during the 2004-05 season. Instead, he became the third youngest, behind Dale Hawerchuk and former Shark Vincent Damphousse.

Shane Doan almost got things off to a hot start for Phoenix by rifling a shot off the left post just 44 seconds into the game.

Marleau would do his own celebrating by getting the Sharks on the board three minutes later with a shot from the left corner that found the top shelf for the 1-0 Sharks lead. Marc-Edouard Vlasic sent a feed to Marleau who was skating up the left wing boards. Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was partially screened by Joe Pavelski, as the Sharks forward skated along the end line.

Phoenix would tie things up courtesy of Kent Huskins, who deflected a Derek Morris shot past Niemi at 12:09. Morris sent a long shot in from the right point, catching Huskins skate for the redirect into the Sharks goal.

Dany Heatley would add his 18th goal of the season 4 minutes into the 2nd period after the Coyotes tuned over the puck during a line change. With Adrian Aucoin heading to his bench, the Coyotes were only left with a single defenseman back in their own zone. Dan Boyle stepped in front of a breakout pass in the neutral zone before sending the puck up to Couture. Heatley would take a pass from the rookie in the slot before deeking Bryzgalov and walking the puck into the net.

Heatley would put his team in a precarious position five minutes later after he cut Radim Vrbata with a high stick. San Jose would get relief form Niemi who stood on his head during the four-minute double-minor penalty.

David Schlemko would cross checking penalty with 4 minutes left before the second intermission. Couture would crack the 20 goal mark on the ensuing power play, off a Dan Boyle feed. Couture was cruising through the slot when Heatley and Boyle put together a tic-tac-toe sequence that ended on his stick for the redirect past Bryzgalov.

A tripping penalty to Joe Pavelski early in the 3rd period gave the Coyotes a chance to cut into the Sharks lead, but Niemi made a nice save on a Keith Yandle shot, then got a little help from the post on a shot that came an inch from finding the back of the net.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson would bite into that lead with a goal at 12:01 of the period on a shot from the left dot. The Sharks were guilty of watching the puck as Lauri Korpokoski skated around the back of the net. Rather than stepping into Korpikoski, the Sharks allowed the forward to roam with the puck before finding the cutting Ekman-Larsson.

Bryzgalov denied Joe Thornton with a big save on the Sharks captain with just under 3 minutes to play. Niemi would answer with a big save on Eric Belanger who tried jamming a shot past the Sharks netminder from the doorstep with 1:50 left in regulation.

Joe Thornton would put the game away with an empty-netter after Marleau forced a turnover in the Coyotes zone. The Sharks had pushed a faceoff out of their zone, ad Marleau chased the puck and forced Martin Hanzel into making a pass up the ice. Thornton stepped in front of it and carried it into the Phoenix goal for his 13th of the season.

Game Notes:

Couture became the 3rd Shark to score 20 goals as a rookie. Benn Ferriero was a scratch after sustaining an eye injury in the Sharks win over St Louis on Saturday night. Ferriero was scratched his eye in his fight with Eric Brewer.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 1 2 1 4
PHO 1 0 1 2
1st period - 1, SJ, Marleau 18 (Vlasic, Pavelski), 3:45. 2, PHO, Morris 4 (Yandle, Belanger), 12:09.
2nd period - 3, SJ, Heatley 18 (Couture, Thornton), 4:03. 4, SJ, Couture 20 (Boyle, Heatley), 17:19, (pp).
3rd period - 5, PHO, Ekman-Larsson 1 (Korpikoski, Stempniak), 12:01. 6, SH, Thornton 13 (unassisted), 19:11, (en).
Penalties
1st period - Lepisto, PHO (interference), 19:54.
2nd period - Heatley, SJ (high sticking – double minor), 9:11; Schlemko, PHO (cross checking), 16:06.
3rd period - Pavelski, SJ (tripping), 3:15; Doan, PHO (delay of game – puck over glass), 13:27.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 36 34
PHO - Bryzgalov 35 32
PHO - empty net 1 0
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 12 10 14 36
PHO 9 12 15 36
Power Play Conversion
SJ 1 of 3
PHO 0 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Dany Heatley
Antti Niemi
Ray Whitney
Attendence
9,672
Officials
Referees: Peel, Rooney. Linesmen: Cameron, Henderson.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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