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Looks can be deceiving
Sharks 50 shots a misnomer
11/2/13 - By Mike Lee -

Things are starting to get lively in the Pacific Division. Saturday night's Sharks - Coyotes game at SAP Center was essentially a litmus test of things to come in what will continue to be an extremely competitive conference race. The two teams traded jabs for 65 minutes, then required 5 rounds of the shootout to decide the first game of November for each club. Antoine Vermette's backhand changeup in that 5th round pushed the Coyotes over the top, climbing to within a point of the Sharks in the division and conference standings.

* The Western Conference is so tight after the first month of the season that the Sharks have gone from the top of the heap to a loss away from the 6th seed. Colorado leap frogged past them for the top spot in the conference Saturday night with a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. Anaheim also won, matching the Sharks 23 standings points. The Vancouver Canucks sit just two points back in the 6th spot.

As for the game…

* San Jose outshot Phoenix 50-30 in the contest, but don't let the stats deceive you. San Jose had 6 power play chances, including a 4-minute double minor to Radim Vrbata for cutting Scott Hannan with a high stick. 21 of their shots came on those 6 power play chances. Of those 21 shots, only Dan Boyle's snipe shot from the left side converted.

* While we're on the topic of shots on goal, the Sharks inflated count of 50 can also be overshadowed by the fact that they recorded 0 shots in the overtime period. Phoenix commanded the extra frame, out-shooting San Jose 7-0. Not that it mattered. 2 goals on 50 shots obviously didn't get the job done. Maybe San Jose should target 100 shots a game as a target going forward.

* The game was essentially decided by the Sharks inability to convert on the power play. The 4-minute opportunity stands out as one of those glaring moments when the Sharks slipped. They trailed the Coyotes 1-0 at the time, and employed a power play strategy that kept the puck down low, trying to beat Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith with a series of touch passes in front of the net. Smith and the Coyotes penalty kill was having none of it, snuffing out the Sharks man-advantage with relative ease.

* While Smith had a nice stat padding evening, Antti Niemi had a night to forget. The sharks netminder surrendered a goal 36 seconds into the game, and then gave up one of the softest tallies you'll see in the 2nd period to cough up a 2-1 Sharks lead. That second goal came courtesy of Mikkel Boedker, who skated around the Sharks Playstation Player of the Month for October, Marc-Edouard Vlassic, with relative ease before flipping a relatively mundane shot from the right side that slipped past Niemi. The sharks goaltender seemed slow to react to the shot, getting his paddle down late.

* The real stinger on the Boedker goal was that Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl had missed on a breakaway chance moments earlier. Hertl skated in uncontested on Smith after Joe Thornton made a nice feed from just inside the Sharks blueline, but was denied by the Coyotes netminder. Boedker then took a feed in his own zone and coasted up the right wing, and floated past a flat-footed Vlasic before cashing in on his gift from Niemi.

* Dan Boyle made his return to the ice after getting knocked unconscious in St Louis two weeks ago. Boyle took the anemic power play situation into his own hands and scored on a more conventional shot from the left circle. Boyle abandoned the Sharks finesse approach to the power play and simply fired a puck on net while skating with speed toward the net. Simple and effective. 40 setup passes not required.

* San Jose other goal came from Joe Pavelski who also scored while attacking the net. Rather than dishing the puck and inevitably turning it over, Pavelski raced up the right side and snapped a shot that beat Smith top shelf.

* In the shootout Sharks head coach Todd McLellan made the peculiar decision to put Jason Demers into the third spot in the shootout lineup. With ten forwards sitting on the bench (McLellan had forwards Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski shoot before Demers), the Sharks bench boss elected to go with a defenseman with suspect puck handling skills. To nobody's surprise, Demers stuffed a weak shot into Smith's pads to force the shootout to a 4th round.



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Scoring
1 2 3 OT SO T
PHO 1 1 0 0 1 3
SJ 0 2 0 0 0 2
1st period - 1, PHO, Vermette 5 (Klinkhammer, Boedker), 0:36.
2nd period - 2, SJ, Pavelski 6 (Nieto, Wingels), 1:16. 3, SJ, Boyle 2 (Pavelski, Thornton), 5:10, (pp). 4, PHO, Boedker 3 (Morris), 8:57.
3rd period - None.
Overtime - None.
Shootout - SJ: Couture (goal), Pavelski (miss), Demers (miss), Hertl (miss), Marleau (miss). PHO: Boedker (miss), Vrbata (goal), Ribeiro (miss), Runblad (miss), Vermette (goal).
Penalties
1st period - Hanzel, PHO (elbowing), 5:50; Wingels, SJ (interference), 11:35; Vbrata, PHO (high sticking - double minor), 14:39.
2nd period - Chipchura, PHO (slashing), 3:49; Vlasic, SJ (cross checlking), 5:52; Kennedy, SJ (slashing), 15:00; Bench, PHO (too many men), 17:15.
3rd period - Michalek, PHO (high sticking), 0:41; Kennedy, SJ (interference), 5:15.
Overtime - None.
Goaltending
Shots Saves
PHO - Smith 50 48
SJ - Niemi 30 28
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 OT T
PHO 7 7 9 7 30
SJ 16 15 19 0 50
Power Play Conversion
PHO 0 of 4
SJ 1 of 6
3 Stars of the Game
Mike Smith
Joe Pavelski
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Attendence
17,562
Officials
Referees: Meier, Peel. Linesmen: Heyer, Amell.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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