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Big comeback kicks off post All Star stretch
Pavelski scores a pair of goals in big division win
2/1/11 - By Mike Lee -

All the talk heading into the Sharks first game following the All Star break was centered around getting off to a good start, and not repeating the post-Christmas break letdown that led to a six-game losing streak. For 39 minutes, it looked like the Sharks were on the verge of resurrecting that horrific stretch with a sub-par performance that allowed a hot Phoenix Coyotes team to take a 3-0 lead. They would snap out of it and stun the Coyotes with five unanswered goals, including four in the 3rd period to take a 5-3 decision at HP Pavilion.

The evening began with a salute to Patrick Marleau, for playing in 1000 NHL games. The evening would be capped by a textbook Marleau breakaway goal to give the Sharks the lead with 6 minutes to play.

San Jose woke up from their All Star fog in time to grab a big two points. With 31 games to play, the Sharks sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They also closed the gap with Phoenix to a single point in the standings. It was the third win in three attempts against the Coyotes who seemed primed to grab the victory after jumping out to their big lead.

With the Dallas Stars also losing on Tuesday night, the Sharks also trail division leaders by 7 points. The Sharks may have their fans to thank for the wake up call, after receiving a loud round of boos midway through the contest. It was a big contrast from the celebratory mood before the start of the game.

Marleau and Joe Thornton teamed up for a big scoring chance five minutes into the contest, but Thornton's one-tie chance went wide of the net. Marleau had race into the Phoenix zone and elected to send a pass through the left side to Thornton, rather than shooting on Coyote's goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

The Sharks would misfire on a power play midway through the period, generating a couple of shots on goal, but nothing of the dangerous variety. Dany Heatley would earn himself a minor penalty for boarding Ed Jovanovski. The hit would send the Coyotes defenseman to the locker room for some treatment after his head bounced off the glass. He would return to start the next period.

Phoenix would make the Sharks pay for Heatley's transgression by converting on the ensuing power play. Radim Vrbata would score his 6th power play goal of the season by deflecting a Shane Doan shot from the left point. Vrbata redirected the waist high shot enough to get the shot past Antti Niemi for the 1-0 Coyote lead at 16:11.

Keith Yandle would make it 2-0 with 65 remaining in the period. The Sharks had to claw just to get the puck out of their own end, and when they finally did, a weak Devin Setoguchi pass ended up on Derek Morris' stick while the Sharks tried changing lines. The defenseman would slide a pass over to Yandle on the left side. The league's top scoring defenseman would tee up the puck from 40-feet, beating Niemi to the glove side high.

Things turned just downright painful for the Sharks when the Coyotes fourth line outworked the Sharks for another goal midway through the 2nd period. Phoenix tough guy Paul Bissonnette would punch home an Oleg Ekman-Larsson pass past Niemi from 8 feet out. Ekman-Larsson finished a strong cycle by making the feed from the left boards to Bissonnette, who pumped his fist in celebration after depositing his 1st goal of the season.

Sharks head coach Todd McLellan tried to pump a little life in his team by pulling Niemi and inserting Alex Stalock in net. It was Stalock's NHL debut, but it turned out the be just what the doctor ordered.

Eric Belanger would take a tripping penalty with 57 seconds left in the period, opening the door for the Sharks to finally get a puck past Bryzgalov. Heatley would try throwing a puck on net, but it was deflected by Morris into the side of the Phoenix net. Lurking in front of the net, Joe Pavelski simply flipped the puck over Bryzgalov's pad for this 10th goal of the season with 8 ticks left in the period.

Pavelski would score again just 1:24 into the 3rd period after the Sharks were able to push the puck deep in the Phoenix zone. Derek Joslin made a nice play up the right wing boards to get the puck into the Coyote zone, before Ryane Clowe slid a pass to Setoguchi on his left. Setoguchi got a shot on goal that Bryzgalov stopped with a pad save, but the puck kicked out to Pavelski out in front for the easy put back.

Kyle Wellwood would bag the equalizer 92 seconds later. Ben Eager got the puck to the front of the net, where Wellwood chipped at it, floating in into Bryzgalov's glove. Rather than gloving it, Bryzgalov fumbled it back into the air, where Wellwood hacked it into the Phoenix net for his 1st goal of the season.

Setoguchi would miss on a golden opportunity to take the lead midway though the period after he would find himself on a breakaway chance, but a backhand chance would go wide. The Sharks kept the heat applied to the Coyote goal and would draw a holding the stick penalty moments later.

Eager would take an untimely hooking penalty with 7:25 left in regulation to put the Coyotes on the power play for the third time. Marleau would work his magic by stepping in front of a Pavelski deflection before racing up ice with Lee Stempniak in hot pursuit. Stempniak lost his stick trying to avoid a hook as Marleau raced for position, which allowed the Sharks forward to skate in on net without much obstruction. He would lift the puck over Bryzgalov's stick and just like that the Sharks had the lead.

Coyotes head coach would pull Bryzgalov with a minute left in the game, but Thornton would close things out with an empty-netter.

Game Notes:

Logan Couture was a scratch after his flu prevented him from making the start. He took warm-ups with the rest of the team, but couldn't answer the opening bell.


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1 2 3 T
PHO 2 1 0 3
SJ 0 1 4 5
1st period - 1, PHO, Vrbata 11 (Doan, Whitney), 16:11, (pp). 2, PHO, Yandle 9 (Morris), 18:55.
2nd period - 3, PHO, Bissonnette 1 (Ekman-Larsson, Korpikoski), 10:13. 4, SJ, Pavelski (Heatley, Boyle), 19:52, (pp).
3rd period - 5, SJ, Pavelski 11 (Setoguchi, Clowe), 1:24. 6, SJ, Wellwood 1 (Eager, Demers), 5:32. 7, SJ, Marleau 19 (Pavelski), 13:55, (sh). 8, SJ, Thornton (Marleau, Vlasic), 19:49, (en).
1st period - Doan, PHO (holding), 12:39; Heatley, PHO (boarding), 14:33.
2nd period - Mayers, SJ (10 min misconduct), 12:25; Belanger, PHO (tripping), 18:03.
3rd period - Ferriero, SJ (tripping), 2:02. 6, SJ, Wellwood 1 (Eager, Demers), 3:34; Lepisto, PHO (holding the stick), 9:55; Eager, SJ (hooking), 12:35.
Shots Saves
PHO - Bryzgalov 37 33
PHO - empty net 1 0
SJ - Niemi 27 24
SJ - Stalock 9 9
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
PHO 18 12 6 36
SJ 12 11 15 38
Power Play Conversion
PHO 1 of 3
SJ 1 of 3
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau
Kyle Wellwood
Referees: Morton, Walkom. Linesmen: Cameron, Cvik.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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