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Coyotes heel to Sharks
San Jose keeps playoff hopes alive with 3-1 win
4/3/15 - By Mike Lee -

The Sharks continued to do what they need to if they want any chance at sneaking back into the playoff race. Kicking off their home-and-home series with the Arizona Coyotes, the Sharks struck early, hitting the Coyotes with a couple of knockout punches in the 1st period, then suppressed the Coyotes for most of the evening en route to a 3-1 win at SAP Center.

San Jose slips to within 3 points of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with the win, keeping their playoff hopes alive. Every one of the Sharks remaining 4 games is must win if San Jose has any hockey plans beyond their regular season finale in Los Angeles on April 11th.

The Sharks looked like a desperate team in the opening 20 minutes. San Jose looked like they were trying to maul the Coyotes in the 1st frame, out-shooting Arizona 16-3. 2 of those 16 shots found the back of the net.

Logan Couture wasted little time, scoring his 27th goal of the season 58 seconds into the game. Couture had to adjust to an errant pass from Tomas Hertl, who sent the puck to his linemate's skate rather than his stick blade. Couture received the puck with the outside of his left skate, controlling it to his stick for a quick shot that beat Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue with a shot from the right side that just tucked it inside the left post.

BJ Crombeen was called for hooking at 2:57 of the period, which setup a second tally for the Sharks, albeit the tally was not credited as a power play goal. Joe Pavelski took a Patrick Marleau pass just outside the right post and roofed it past Domingue for his 37th goal of the season. The goal came an instant after Crombeen's penalty expired, therefore it was credited as an even strength goal even though the winger wasn't in his own defensive zone to help defend on the play.

The Coyotes slipped a puck past Niemi 2 minutes later, but it was waved off after David Moss gloved the puck and slid it over the goal line after crashing into Niemi. Moss' decision to put his hand on the puck was a peculiar one, given that it had the direction and velocity to get across the line on its own.

Arizona cut into San Jose's lead just 2:34 into the 2nd period when Mark Arcobello threw the puck to the front of the net in an attempt to setup Tobias Rieder. The puck never got there as Sharks defenseman Brent Burns tried to intercept the pass, but ended up tapping into his own net instead.

Matt Nieto battled the puck all night, but his perseverance paid off in the 3rd period. Chris Tierney started a nice scoring chance by forcing things in front of the net at 14:10 of the period. Nieto jumped into the feeding frenzy, bouncing a shot off Domingue's pad from the top of the crease with two Coyote defenders draped all over him. The rebound landed back on Nieto's stick for the put back that the Sharks forward feathered over the Coyote goaltender's left pad.

The assist that Tierney earned on the goal was his 12th helper since being recalled on February 4th. The forward has recorded 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists) in 39 games this season.

With the 2-goal deficit, Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett was forced to pull Domingue with 2 minutes left in the period. That move did nothing to the outcome of the game.

Niemi finished the evening with 20 saves and was solid for the majority of the evening, showing no effects of the illness that sidelined him for 3 games.

The Sharks jumped on a plane headed for Arizona, immediately following the game. The two teams will pick back up on Saturday night for the back end game of their quick series.

Game Notes:

* Defenseman Karl Stollery made his Sharks debut after being recalled from Worcester on Thursday. Stollery was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline for Freddie Hamilton. Stollery skated on 23 shifts, with 2 shots, 4 hits, and 2 blocked shots.

* Defenseman Scott Hannan was a scratch after taking a puck to the face in San Jose's win on Wednesday night. Hannan was sporting cuts above and below his left eye.

* Hannan was also nominated by the San Jose chapter of the Hockey Writers Association for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded each season to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

* Mike Brown made his return to the Sharks lineup after missing the last 47 games while recovering form a broken leg.


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1 2 3 T
ARI 0 1 0 1
SJ 2 0 1 3
1st period - 1, SJ, Couture 27 (Hertl, Marleau), 0:58. 2, SJ, Pavelski 37 (Marleau, Couture), 5:00.
2nd period - 3, ARI, Arcobello 16 (unassisted), 2:34.
3rd period - 4, SJ, Nieto 9 (), 14:10.
1st period - Crombeem, PHO (hooking), 2:57; Nieto, SJ (high sticking), 16:08.
2nd period - Moore, PHO (fighting major) 15:17; Goodrow, SJ (fighting major), 15:17.
3rd period - McGinn, ARI (roughing), 12:37; Dillon, SJ (roughing), 12:37; Stone, ARI (high sticking), 14:31.
Shots Saves
ARI - Domingue 37 34
SJ - Niemi 21 20
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
ARI 3 7 11 21
SJ 16 10 11 37
Power Play Conversion
ARI 0 of 1
SJ 0 of 2
3 Stars of the Game
Logan Couture
Patrick Marleau
Antti Niemi
Referees: Kowal, Rehman. Linesmen: Sharrers, Murchison.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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