SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - The San Jose Sharks went through a season's worth of emotions.
Dull indifference while falling behind 3-0. A passionate surge while rallying to tie it. Downright outrage when their comeback was negated by two sketchy officiating decisions.
Steven Reinprecht simply stayed steady, and his three goals led the Phoenix Coyotes to yet another win over their Pacific Division rivals.
Reinprecht completed his first career hat trick on a power play with 1:05 left in overtime, and the Coyotes beat the Sharks 4-3 Saturday night despite blowing that three-goal lead in the third period.
Reinprecht, who scored five goals in Phoenix's two wins at the Shark Tank over the last three days, easily converted a rebound from the slot after the Sharks killed off all but 6 seconds of a penalty. He had a short-handed goal and an even-strength score in regulation.
He made it look easy in a game that was anything but simple for the Sharks, who rallied to earn a valuable point in their playoff chase, but wanted more.
"Right place, right time," Reinprecht claimed of his scoring binge. "I've been going to the net and turning around, and the puck's right on my tape."
The Sharks were furious with themselves over the first two periods, when they were outshot 29-9 while falling behind - but they were pleased by the third, when they rallied for three terrific goals.
Scott Hannan's power-play goal tied it with 3:53 left in regulation. Matt Carle and Jonathan Cheechoo also scored for the Sharks, who outshot Phoenix 18-3 in the third - finally showing the desperation appropriate for the Western Conference's ninth-place team.
"I'm wondering why it took us so long to get started, especially in the battle we're in," defenseman Kyle McLaren said. "It's inexcusable. We've got to get better, because there's only nine games left."
Two officiating decisions went against San Jose in the final minutes: No penalty was called when McLaren was dragged down with a clear look at the net, but Carle got an interference penalty moments later.
Sharks coach Ron Wilson thought the officials were intimidated by Gretzky's game-long yapping, but the NHL's career scoring leader only praised his team's effort.
"Emotions got really strong and hard and high in the third period, but that's how you gain experience," Gretzky said. "Their team turned it up a notch in the third, but it was nice to see us find a way to squeeze out a victory. We're going in the right direction, and it makes us feel good."
Curtis Joseph made 26 saves for Phoenix, which has won six of its seven meetings with the Sharks this season. The Coyotes have won seven of nine overall.
"We're playing our best hockey of the year," Joseph said.
Calgary beat Edmonton 4-1 Saturday, allowing San Jose to creep three points behind the eighth-place Oilers with two games in hand. But the Sharks are running out of time, with just nine games left and a three-game road trip looming.
"We've got to be happy with our third period and how we came together down the stretch," Hannan said. "But we've got to be embarrassed about the first two periods."
Vesa Toskala made 32 saves for San Jose, including a handful of outstanding stops.
Geoff Sanderson also scored, Keith Ballard had two assists and Joseph improved to 32-7-0-1 in his lengthy career against the Sharks. Reinprecht's overtime goal gave him 14 points in his last seven games with the club that acquired him from Calgary on Feb. 1.
During a San Jose power play in the second period, the puck hopped over Carle's head, hit a linesman and landed right in front of Reinprecht for a breakaway goal, his 20th of the season, to put Phoenix up 3-0.
But San Jose opened the third period with energy and finally ended an 86-minute scoring drought on a power play 2 minutes in. Carle, the star University of Denver defenseman in his third NHL game, scored on a deflected slap shot.
Cheechoo then slid through traffic and expertly backhanded home his franchise-record 46th goal of the season with 8:14 to play.
The Sharks tied it with a superb effort by Steve Bernier, their rookie power forward. With San Jose on a power play, Bernier knocked Ballard to the ice with one hand while controlling the puck with the other - and then circled behind the net and fed Hannan, who beat Joseph from point-blank range.
Notes: Phoenix D Paul Mara played after missing two games with the flu, and D Jamie Rivers returned after sitting out two games with a sore foot. ... San Jose C Alyn McCauley returned after missing Thursday's game with a lower-body injury, ending his streak of 169 consecutive games played. ... Hannan earned his 100th NHL point with an assist on Cheechoo's goal.
|Steve Reinprecht (19) ASST: Keith Ballard (28), Fredrik Sjostrom (15)|
1 - 0 PHX
|Geoff Sanderson (24) ASST: Bill Thomas (1), Keith Ballard (29)|
2 - 0 PHX
|SHG - Steve Reinprecht (20) ASST: Zbynek Michalek (14)|
3 - 0 PHX
|PPG - Matthew Carle (2) ASST: Tom Preissing (24), Jonathan Cheechoo (31)|
3 - 1 PHX
|Jonathan Cheechoo (46) ASST: Scott Hannan (17), Ville Nieminen (15)|
3 - 2 PHX
|PPG - Scott Hannan (5) ASST: Steve Bernier (11), Patrick Marleau (48)|
3 - 3 Tie
|PPG - Steve Reinprecht (21) ASST: Derek Morris (17), Mike Johnson (35)|
4 - 3 PHX
|Paul Mara Holding against Joe Thornton|
|Nisse Ekman Hooking|
|Kyle McLaren Interference against Mike Johnson|
|Scott Parker Roughing against Josh Gratton|
|Scott Parker Holding against Keith Ballard|
|Ville Nieminen Tripping against Oleg Saprykin|
|Geoff Sanderson Holding against Ville Nieminen|
|Ville Nieminen Holding against Keith Ballard|
|Jamie Rivers Hi-sticking against Steve Bernier|
|Fredrik Sjostrom Roughing against Ville Nieminen|
|Mike Johnson Hooking against Jonathan Cheechoo|
|Dennis Seidenberg Holding against Nisse Ekman|
|Matthew Carle Interference against Geoff Sanderson|