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Getting the job done
Sharks outlast Coyotes to keep pace in West
3/24/12 - By Mike Lee -

At this time of the season it doesn't matter how you win, so long as you do win. San Jose scratched a clawed their way to a two-point performance on Saturday night against the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion. The Sharks trailed, led, trailed, drew even and finally won 4-3 after Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe scored in the shootout. Antti Niemi made 24 saves in regulation and overtime, then denied Michael Boedker and Ray Whitney in the shootout to earn his 30th win of the season.

The only drawback to the win, was that it came in the shootout. The NHL's new tie-breaker rules weight regulation and overtime wins higher than shootout wins. The Sharks have the same number of points as the Los Angeles Kings, but the Kings have one more non-shootout win.

That tie-breaker gives the Kings the final playoff spot, with 7 games remaining for both teams.

"It's obviously an important game for both teams," said Coyotes centerman Boyd Gordon. "It's always a great building to play in - it's loud. I think we put in the effort there. Obviously, you'd like to get an extra point in the shootout, but I thought the effort was there and we got a point out of it. Let's move on [and] get ready for tomorrow."

The Coyotes sit in the 7th spot by virtue of the point they earned by getting to overtime. The Coyotes played well enough to earn a second point, but the hockey gods gave the Sharks the nod on the playoff-esque game.

Phoenix took a 1-0 lead 6:31 into the game on Damon Langkow's 11th goal of the season.

San Jose answered less than two minutes later after capitalizing on a turnover in the Phoenix zone. Joe Thornton stepped in front of a Lauri Korpikoski pass in the slot, then slid a pass to his left to Patrick Marleau on a quick wrist shot past Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. The goal was Marleau's first on home ice in ten games.

Brent Burns made it 2-1 Sharks with 2:32 left in the period, rifling a shot from the top of the right circle past Smith for his 11th goal of the season.

Phoenix tied the game with half a second remaining in the period on what can only be described as a fortuitous deflection. With time winding down, Langkow tried putting a puck on net from the left dot, but his shot deflected out to the high slot. Derek Morris was in the right place at the right time, one-timing the deflection past Niemi.

"It was a huge (momentum swing) to allow them to score with point-five seconds on the clock, but we just came in and said 'Hey, things are going to happen.'," said Thornton. "Throughout the game you just can't panic."

Korpikoski made amends for his turnover by putting the Coyotes up 49 seconds into the 2nd period, deflecting a Whitney pass past Niemi. Whitney carried the puck up the right wing and looped toward the net from the corner, waiting for Korpikoski to position himself near the net. The former Sharks hit Korpikoski on the tape for the simple redirect.

Getting scoring from role players is an intangible come playoff time. San Jose was the benefactor of Daniel Winnik's sudden scoring binge. Winnik extended is goal scoring streak to two games after sniping a goal from the right dot at 5:01 of the period. Winnik scored the game-winner on Thursday night when San Jose knocked off the Boston Bruins 2-1.

"I don't know about that (scoring in every game) but it was good job by our line," said Winnik. "Tommy Wingels made a great screen. I think it was just a matter of getting the shot through all the legs."

Niemi faced 9 shots in the 3rd period, including a big stop off a Whitney shot with a minute remaining in regulation. Phoenix failed to generate any shots on net in the overtime, unlike the Sharks who threw 4 shots on Smith in the extra period.

Handzus immediately put the pressure on Phoenix in the shootout, lifting a shot over Smith's blocker in the opening round of the shootout. Clowe used the same move, putting a shot past Smith. Whitney tried a backhand deek, but Niemi's right pad sealed the Sharks win.

"I watched Handzus go before me and I've tried to use that move a couple of times this year," added Clowe. "I still feel confident with it. If I have to go to the backhand I can still use that as well but I had it in my mind that I was going to go where I did."





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Scoring
1 2 3 OT SO T
PHO 2 1 0 0 0 3
SJ 2 1 0 0 1 4
1st period - 1, PHO, Langkow 11 (Brule, Torres), 6:31. 2, SJ, Marleau 28 (Thornton), 8:09. 3, SJ, Burns 11 (Pavelski, Thornton), 17:28. 4, PHO, Morris 2 (Langkow), 19:59.
2nd period - 5, PHO, Korpikoski 17 (Whitney). 6, SJ, Winnik 7 (Desjardins, Wingels), 5:01.
3rd period - None.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Handzus (goal), Clowe (goal). PHO: Boedcker (miss), Whitney (miss).
Penalties
1st period - Stone, PHO (delay of game), 9:34; Morris, PHO (hooking, 12:27; Thornton, SJ (hooking), 12:57.
2nd period - Bolduc, PHO (hooking), 6:41; Chipchura, PHO (interference), 17:10.
3rd period - Klesla, PHO (high sticking), 15:55.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
PHO - Smith 32 29
SJ - Niemi 27 24
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
PHO 8 10 9 0 27
SJ 10 10 8 4 32
Power Play Conversion
PHO 0 of 1
SJ 0 of 5
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Joe Pavelski
Tommy Wingels
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: L'Ecouyer, Jackson. Linesmen: Rody, Cvik.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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