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Arizona push Sharks to the brink
League's doormat essentially ends San Jose's season
4/4/15 - By Mike Lee -

It looked as if the Sharks were about to line up a valiant comeback in the Western Conference playoff race. With 4 games left in their regular season, the cards were actually aligning in their favor. The schedule pitted San Jose against the West's worst in the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night in Glendale. True to form this season, the Sharks let a doormat team take it to them and steal a game that San Jose should have won with their eyes closed.

The Sharks trailed all night and just didn't have the ability to catch a spirited Coyotes team that won for the first time in regulation wince February 3rd. Arizona had gone over two months since winning a game after 60 minutes, but they found a way to put pucks past Antti Niemi in a game San Jose had to win.

With the outcome, the Sharks have been pushed to the brink. Should Winnipeg earn a single point, which can be done with a win, OT loss or SO loss, or if the Sharks fail to win out their final 3 games, then San Jose season officially ends.

Those combinations really make a tough situation almost impossible. The Jets have been hot, and San Jose not. It will make for an interesting game on Monday night when the Sharks close out their home schedule. Sharks fans won't even have a chance to voice their displeasure, should the Sharks fall on the road.

The notion of the playoffs seams ludicrous to begin with. If the Sharks can't handle the 2nd worst team in the league, how are they supposed to do any damage in the playoffs. Saturday night was a culmination of more poor penalty killing and the inability to capitalize on a weaker team that's playing out the season.

The Sharks scored a pair of power play goals on Saturday, but more importantly, they gave up a pair of special teams goals. Both of those came in the opening period, after San Jose gave up dumb penalties. The Sharks 26th ranked penalty kill has arguably the worst in the league in the second half of the season, and true to form, it continued to disappoint on Saturday.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the first of his 2 goals on the evening, with a power pl ay goal at 11:53 of the 1st period, after Karl Stollery took a poor tripping penalty. Ekman-Larsson shipped a shot from the right point, that squeezed between Niemi and the left post. It was a shot that Niemi should have stopped, but it didn't get done.

Larsson was sent off himself at 15:39 after interfering with Tommy Wingles. Tomas Hertl cashed in when his shot kicked off Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith for a put back chance that Hertl back-handed home.

Barclay Goodrow tripped Klas Dahlback late in the period, to put the Coyotes right back on the power play. Shane Doan was the beneficiary of a Michael Stone shot that hit the left post and bounced to the top of the crease. The Coyotes long suffering captain punched home the rebound for his 14th goal of the season and a 2-1 Arizona lead.

Similar to Friday night's game, both teams seemed unwilling to score in the middle period until Ekman-Larsson lifted his 2nd goal of the game past Niemi. The Coyotes defenseman was in the right place at the right time after a rebound bounced out to an open spot for an easy deposit.

Joe Thornton answered 19 seconds later, carrying the puck out of the left corner and snapping a shot that beat Smith. Like everyone else in the building, Smith fully expected Thornton to pass, but the Sharks defrocked former captain put the puck high from a tough angle for his 15th goal of the season.

If San Jose was going to make a game of it, they would need to score first in the 3rd period. That didn't happen when Logan Couture was stripped of the puck in his own end by Doan, who then proceeded to send a pass across the slot to Mark Arcobello, who snapped a one-time chance past Niemi from the right side.

A Michael Stone hooking penalty gave the Sharks a second power play chance in the period, and they would capitalize when Christ Tierney tipped a Matt Irwin shot past Smith. Tierney has been one of the Sharks few bright spots this season, having really established his scoring prowess after being recalled in February.

A David Moss delay of game penalty setup the Sharks with what should have been a golden opportunity to tie the game late, but San Jose's power play struggled to gain the zone and setup.

As the power play whittled down, so did the Sharks season. The Sharks were forced to pull Niemi, which setup a Sam Gagner empty net goal that iced the Coyotes win.


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1 2 3 T
SJ 1 1 1 3
ARI 2 1 2 5
1st period - 1, ARI, Ekman-Larsson 22 (Arcobello, Moore), 11:53, (pp). 2, SJ, Hertl 13 (Fedun, Tierney), 16:36, (pp). 3, ARI, Doan 14 (Stone, EKman-Larsson), 18:57, (pp).
2nd period - 4, ARI, Ekman-Larsson 23 (Doan, Erat), 17:46. 5, SJ, Thornton 15 (Burns, Karlsson), 18:05.
3rd period - 6, ARI, Arcobello 17 (Doan, Rieder), 5:30. 7, SJ, Tierney 6 (Irwin, Fedun), 6:48, (pp). 8, ARI, Gagner 14 (Erat, Moss), 19:49, (en).
1st period - Doan, ARI (hooking), 4:49; Stollery, SJ (hooking), 10:27; Ekman-Larsson, ARI (interference), 15:39; Goodrow, SJ (tripping), 17:50.
2nd period - Doan, ARI (hooking), 3:55.
3rd period - Moss, ARI (high sticking), 1:27; Stone, ARI (hooking), 5:46; Thornton, SJ (hooking), 9:53; Fedun, SJ (high sticking), 12:51; Moss, ARI (delay of game - puck over glass), 17:11.
Shots Saves
SJ - Niemi 32 28
SJ - empty net 1 0
ARI - Smith 45 42
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
SJ 16 13 15 45
ARI 14 11 7 33
Power Play Conversion
SJ 2 of 6
ARI 2 of 4
3 Stars of the Game
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Shane Doan
Mike Smith
Referees: Charron, St Laurent. Linesmen: Cameron, Rody.
Holiday Gifts at BustedTees

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