You wouldn’t call a game before the All-Star break a must win, but for the Phoenix Coyotes a win against division foe San Jose would have been the Yotes fifth in a row. A win also would have keep the Yotes separated from a jumbled western conference, where teams four through twelve are separated by just seven points. Sharks forward Danny Heatley had a goal and assist to end Phoenix’s winning streak and get a much need two points in a 4-2 win on Monday afternoon at Jobing.com Arena.
You give them credit, they found ways to bury their chances,” said Coyotes captain Shane Doan. “There were a couple goals you kind of want back, but they buried theirs and we didn’t buy ours and that was the difference in the game.”
Defensemen David Schlemko’s cross checking penalty at 16:06 of the second period put the Sharks on the power play and center Logan Couture capitalized. Couture’s 20th goal of the season also turned out to be the game winner to put the Sharks up 3-1 and moved them into ninth place in the western conference, one point behind Colorado for the eight and final playoff spot.
Things got interesting in the third period as rookie defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his first career NHL goal with eight minutes remaining to cut the Sharks lead to 3-2. Ekman-Larsson blasted a one timer from the left circle that beat San Jose goalie Antti Niemi.
“It was a great feeling,” said Ekman-Larsson. “My first goal of course feels good. I got a good pass from (Lauri) Korpikoski and just one-timed it, it was a great feeling.”
Niemi stopped 34 shots on the day and Joe Thornton added an empty netter to set the final at 4-2 in favor of the road team.
The Coyotes are back in action tomorrow night at home as they face off against the Nashville Predators. Expect back-up goalie Jason LaBarbera to get the start in net. LaBarbera is 6-5-3 on the season with two shutouts.
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Written by Robb Patty