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Spiral continues in Phoenix
Losses continue to mount as Sharks seek answers
3/10/12 - By Mike Lee -

There's not much to be positive about in Sharks land these days. San Jose hoped to get back to winning on their four-game road trip, but after dropping a 3-0 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night, they'll have to do a little more soul searching. Mike Smith stopped 42 shots en route to his 5th shutout of the season and 2nd against the Sharks in 2011-12. The Sharks dropped a 3-0 decision to Phoenix on November 12th.

The shot counter continues to be a deceiving measure of the Sharks ability to pressure an opposing goaltender. San Jose has no problem putting pucks on net, but few are of the challenging variety that are tied to a scoring chance.

Saturday night was no different. San Jose outshot Phoenix 16-9 in the opening period, but nothing came close to beating Smith.

San Jose beat themselves with an ill-fated attempt to move the puck out of their own end 13 minutes into the middle period. The makeshift line of Joe Pavelski, Michal Handzus and Andrew Desjardins were on their heels as the Coyotes turned up the heat and kept the puck pinned in the Sharks end. A weak attempt to move the puck up the left wing boards found its way to rookie Michael Stone who fired a shot on net. Antti Niemi made the save, but the rebound kicked out to Michael Boedker in the slot for a put back. Niemi had no chance on the 12-foot shot.

Dominic Moore should have received an assist on the Coyotes next goal, after his blind pass from deep in the Phoenix zone resulted in a jail break for the opposing team. Phoenix gathered the puck and raced up ice and throwing everything at Niemi. Moore and Douglas Murray backed themselves into the crease as the Coyotes worked a pair shots on net. Stone ended the sequence by scoring is 1st NHL goal with a one-timer off a Marc-Antoine Pouliot feed from behind the net.

With 20 minutes left to kick things into gear, the Sharks looked to strike early in the 3rd period, but the Coyotes turned the tables on them with a goal 39 seconds into the final frame.

Long time Sharks nemesis Raffi Torres was the benefactor of a Shane Doan shot that Niemi failed to control. The Coyotes captain ripped a blast from the right dot, bouncing the puck off Niemi. Torres filled the slot skating out of the right corner, scooping up the rebound and sliding a shot around Niemi for his 12th goal of the season.

The back-breaking tally sucked all the life out of the Sharks, killing any notion of a comeback. The only question that remained was if Smith would earn the shutout.

Tommy Wingels came closest after he slipped past Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and cut across the slot before lifting a shot on net from 8 feet out. Smith slid to his right and gloved the shot to keep the three goal lead firmly intact.

With the loss, the Sharks sit a point out of a playoff spot in 9th place in the Western Conference with 75 points, 6 points behind the Pacific Division leading Dallas Stars. Phoenix sits in the 7th position with 78 points.





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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 0 0 0
PHO 0 2 1 3
1st period - None.
2nd period - 1, PHO, Boedker 9 (Stone, Pouliot), 13:58. 2, PHO, Stone 1 (Pouliot, Brule), 18:10.
3rd period - 3, PHO, Torres 12 (Doan), 0:39. Whitney, PHO (unsucessful penalty shot), 10:32.
Penalties
1st period - Smith, PHO (delay of game - illegal play goalie), 16:08.
2nd period - Yandle, PHO (slashing), 7:20.
3rd period - Couture, SJ (tripping), 3:20; Aucoin, PHO (high sticking), 7:47.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 29 26
PHO - Smith 42 42
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 16 9 17 42
PHO 9 12 6 29
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 3
PHO 0 of 1
3 Stars of the Game
Mike Smith
Michael Stone
Marc-Antoine Pouliot
Attendence
14,994
Officials
Referees: Lee, St Pierre. Linesmen: Gibbs, Mach.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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