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Coyotes play spoilers
Greiss misses in rare start
4/24/13 - By Mike Lee -

You can't win every game, but there are certain ones that make a bigger difference than others. Poised to grab the 4th seed in the Western Conference with a win on Wednesday night, the Sharks squandered their opportunity, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona. Already eliminated from playoff contention, the Coyotes were playing for nothing more than pride, and ended playing spoilers.

Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith entered the contest with a 5-0-1 in his last 6 starts versus San Jose. Smith continued his dominance of the Sharks by stopping 33 of 34 shots to help pace the Coyotes. Sharks head coach Todd McLellan elected to give Antti Niemi the night off, and instead starting Thomas Greiss in net.

That decision almost proved fruitful for the Sharks, less two shots that found their way past Greiss in the 1st period.

Phoenix grabbed the 1-0 lead at 11:56 of the opening period, on a Michael Stone slap shot from the top of the right circle. The Coyotes drew the Sharks defense over to the left side before Radim Vbrata moved the puck over to Stone on the right point. The Phoenix defender walked the puck in before uncorking a shot that beat Greiss, over his right shoulder.

Rookie defenseman Matt Tennyson took a costly hooking penalty at 16:22 of the period, putting the Coyotes on the power play. Keith Yandle made San Jose pay with his 10th goal of the season, on a long slap shot from the right side. Greiss probably would have made the save, but Yandle's shot was tipped by Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart in the slot.

Brent Burns cut the Phoenix lead in half at 3:31 of the 2nd period after T.J. Galiardi disrupted a clearing attempt by Oliver Ekman-Larsson. With Galiardi bearing down on him in the right corner, Ekman-Larsson tried flipping the puck out of the zone, but Burns gloved the puck near the inside of the right circle then fired a shot that beat Smith inside the left post.

Burns missed tying the game minutes later after the puck found its way to the converted defenseman on the left side. Burns tried sweeping the puck into an exposed net, but his shot hit the crossbar.

An Adam Burish tripping penalty midway through the period snuffed out the momentum the Sharks carried from the Burns goal. Phoenix began to swing that momentum back into their favor, eventually outshooting the Sharks 11-10 in the period.

The Sharks made it difficult to generate the necessary offense to score the equalizer in the 3rd period when captain Joe Thornton took a slashing penalty just 1:20 into the period. Burns took a tripping penalty 5 minutes later to squander another two minutes of valuable time.

Dan Boyle had the best scoring chance in the period, when his one-time chance from 12 feet, hit Smith in the mid-section to prevent the Sharks from drawing even.

McLellan pulled Greiss with 1:31 remaining in the period for the extra attacker, but Smith stood on his head to deny Sa Jose.



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Scoring
1 2 3 T
SJ 0 1 0 1
PHO 2 0 0 2
1st period - 1, PHO, Stone 5 (Vrbata, Doan), 11:56. 2, PHO, Yandle 10 (Ekman-Larsson, Doan), 17:52, (pp).
2nd period - 3, SJ, Burns 9 (unassisted), 3:31.
3rd period - None.
Penalties
1st period - Tennyson, SJ (hooking), 16:22.
2nd period - Burish, SJ (tripping), 10:50; Hanzel, PHO (boarding), 16:02.
3rd period - Thornton, SJ (slashing), 1:20; Boedker, PHO (tripping), 5:23; Burns, SJ (tripping), 6:42.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
SJ - Greiss 32 30
PHO - Smith 34 33
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 11 10 13 34
PHO 16 11 5 32
Power Play Conversion
SJ 0 of 2
PHO 1 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Michael Stone
Shane Doan
Mike Smith
Attendence
12,588
Officials
Referees: Walkom, Kowal. Linesmen: Cvik, Gibbs.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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