Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Fredrik Sjostrom - (C) Mike Zigomanis - (RW) Kevyn Adams
(D) Keith Ballard - (D) Ed Jovanovski
SHARKS STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Ryan Clowe - (C) Patrick Marleau - (RW) Joe Thornton
(D) Kyle McLaren - (D) Christian Ehrhoff
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
San Jose - Vesa Toskala
On Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes fell to their Pacific Division rivals, the San Jose Sharks by the score of 4-1.
It was clear from the opening minute of play that there would be a strong physical presence in the game as Coyotes forward Fredrik Sjostrom took a big hit from San Jose defenseman Kyle McLaren as he tried to sneak into the Sharks zone.
Then at 6:07 of the first period, Phoenix blueliner Keith Ballard and Sharks center Patrick Marleau dropped the gloves in front of the Coyotes bench. The fight itself was more of a struggle between both players to get their arms free, but nevertheless both would receive five-minute majors for fighting.
Two minutes later, the Sharks would take the first lead of the game when Joe Thornton carried the puck along the right-hand boards, deep into the Coyotes zone before sending a pass over to a wide open Ryan Clowe in the slot; Clowe would quickly fire the puck underneath goaltender Curtis Joseph and into the net for a 1-0 lead.
San Jose would capture the first power play of the game at 9:39 of the first when Phoenix captain Shane Doan received a questionable hooking call, deep in the Sharks zone. Facing the league's top power play unit, the Coyotes penalty kill went to work trying to keep the deficit at just one goal. Aggressive defense and cutting off shooting lanes helped Phoenix run precious time off the clock and eventually resulted in a completely successful penalty kill, allowing just one power play shot on goal by San Jose.
With 1:05 to play in the opening frame, the Coyotes received their first power play of the game when Sharks defenseman Matt Carle was called for hooking. Shortly after play resumed, Doan was able to manage the Coyotes first shot on the goal of the game when fired the puck on net from the right side, only to have San Jose net minder Vesa Toskala re-direct the puck into the corner.
The Coyotes would be unable to take advantage o the extra skater during the remainder of the first period, but would start the second with 55-seconds left on the penalty to Carle.
The showed more urgency in the offensive zone to start the second period, registering a pair of shots on goal, but still being unable to find the back of the net as the Sharks returned to full strength.
The Sharks had a good scoring chance shortly after returning to full strength when Marleau tried to bank a shot off a fallen Joseph. But the puck never made it's way toward the Coyotes net, allowing Joseph to cover the puck for a whistle.
Phoenix continued to make up for their first period offensive troubles be attacking the San Jose net. Following a series of shots on goal from around the zone, the Coyotes had a quality scoring opportunity when Shane Doan tipped a shot at the top of the crease that just went wide of the net.
At 8:19 of the second, San Jose forward Ryan Clowe was called for hooking, giving the Coyotes their second man-advantage of the night. The power play would be just what Phoenix needed to climb back into the game as Steven Reinprecht's feed from behind the net, connected with the stick of Shane Doan, allowing Doan to tip the puck past Toskala and into the San Jose net, tying the game at 1-1. Ladislav Nagy recorded his team leading 26th assist on Doan's 14th goal of the season.
The Sharks would regain the lead at 14:28 of the second when a shot by Ryan Clowe from the slot, too an odd bounce and just floated over the shoulder of Joseph, to make it a 2-1 game.
While the Coyotes wouldn't be able to even the score before the end of the period, they did turn in an impressive effort during the second stanza, out-shooting the Sharks 18-7.
Just 51-seconds into the third period, the Sharks extended their lead to 3-1 when defenseman Matt Carle grabbed a rebound off the stick of Joseph, moved to the left side of the net and released a wrist shot from a steep angle that sailed into the net for his fourth goal of the season.
Phoenix would find themselves back on the penalty kill at 2:52 of the third when blueliner Derek Morris was sent to the box roughing. The Coyotes would do a good job of bending without breaking as Joseph stopped several shots before the Coyotes were able to carry the puck out of the zone and return to five-on-five hockey.
At 8:57 of the third, San Jose forward Jonathan Cheechoo wrapped his stick around the torso of Ladislav Nagy behind the Coyotes net and hooked him to the ice, resulting in a two-minute minor penalty. Phoenix would get the puck to the Sharks net on a pair of occasions, but were unable to get it across the goal line and chip away at the Sharks lead.
The Coyotes would find themselves shorthanded once again at 10:49 when Doan received a phantom roughing call near the Coyotes net. The Sharks would make the most of the man-advantage at 11:29 of the period when Christian Ehrhoff's shot from the point was tipped in front of the crease by Cheechoo and directed past Joseph to make it a 4-1 game.
At 12:43 of the third, the Coyotes received a scare when Jovanovski was on his knees in front of the Phoenix net and hit in the face with the blade of San Jose forward Milan Michalek's stick as he backhanded a shot on net. Jovanovski received a cut to the face resulting in a four-minute double minor to Michalek for high-sticking.
Despite the extended power play, the Coyotes were unable to mount a threatening offensive attack and the Sharks returned to full strength still holding a three-goal advantage.
The final minutes of the contest would run off the clock without serious offensive pressure from either club. As a result, the Coyotes couldn't cut into the three-goal deficit and fell to the Sharks by the score of 4-1.