At the most wonderful time of the year, the San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes played one of the most wonderful games.
And, in the end, it was San Jose that came out on top and earned its fifth consecutive win.
In a battle of Team Russia's two goaltenders -- Evgeni Nabokov and Ilya Bryzgalov -- Joe Pavelski scored shorthanded in regulation and then beat Bryzgalov in the shootout as the Sharks eked out a pulsating 3-2 win against the Phoenix Coyotes at HP Pavilion on Monday night.
"I thought it was a heck of a game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Both goaltenders -- Bryzgalov, Nabby -- both showed why they're Olympians. There were some tremendous saves at both ends. I thought it was a very intense game. It was a good game for us to play in."
Shane Doan and Matthew Lombardi scored for the Coyotes, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end. They'll get right back at it on Tuesday night on home ice against the Vancouver Canucks.
''It was a great game, a fun game,'' said Bryzgalov, who made 36 saves, including all 19 he faced in the third period. ''There were lots of scoring chances for both sides. We were playing against a good team and that's what you're going to see, a good game.''
Devin Setoguchi got the Sharks on the board just 2:54 into the game, and Pavelski increased San Jose's lead when he managed to beat Bryzgalov shorthanded 5:17 into the second after intercepting Robert Lang's feed.
''You think it's never going to happen on a power play, but sometimes those things happen,'' Pavelski said. ''It's always god to finish your opportunities.''
But the Coyotes stormed back with a pair of goals before the end of the second period. Lombardi cut the deficit in half when he redirected Ed Jovanovski's blast past Nabokov at 9:20 before Doan tallied his third goal in five games at 18:22, when he poked Scottie Upshall's rebound past Nabokov.
"Both teams played really hard … it was almost like a playoff game," Nabokov said. "There were a lot of battles around the net. I thought we did a real good job. They're a good team."
Pavelski scored the lone goal of the shootout, which came in the opening round. Nabokov denied Peter Mueller, Radim Vrbata and Lang to secure the victory.
''We made a couple of mistakes to fall behind but I liked the way our guys climbed back into it,'' Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. ''There were chances to win it both ways, we hit the crossbar in overtime, but the goaltending was good both ways.''
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.