San Jose at Phoenix Game Recap
By Sergey Kocharov
Photos by Norm Hall
It took five games, overtime and five different leads for the San Jose Sharks to finally solve the Phoenix Coyotes.
Tom Preissing scored in the extra session and Patrick Marleau added two goals as the Sharks defeated the Coyotes 5-4 to record their first win against Phoenix this season.
With Mike Ricci just out of the penalty box for hooking, Preissing drove a shot from the blueline to score his seventh goal of the season and send the Coyotes to their fourth consecutive loss at home.
"It's disappointing and frustrating when you lose the special teams battle," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan. "They got two goals on their five chances and we didn't score on our singe one."
Fredrik Sjostrom, Jamie Lundmark, Dave Scatchard and Steven Reinprecht all scored and Curtis Joseph made 19 saves in his ninth consecutive start for the Coyotes, who dropped to 2-4-2 on their current franchise-record 10-game homestand.
"We really battled hard out there," said Sjostrom. "It's frustrating that we lost, but we have to rest up as we have a big stretch coming up."
The Coyotes will now embark on a 17-day break from the rigid NHL schedule as players prepare to represent their respective counties in the Winter Olympics. The time off comes at a crucial time for Phoenix, which dropped to 27-29-3 and are out of the playoff picture.
"For this team (the rest) can be a real positive because we aren't loosing a lot of players to the Olympics," said Coyotes Associate Coach Barry Smith. "We can have majority of our players, besides two, working together for these days to get our team in better position when we get back."
Joe Thornton and Nils Ekman also scored for San Jose and Vesa Toskala had 34 saves for the Sharks, who improved to 27-21-8 on the season and currently occupy the 11th spot in the Western Conference.
"For a while during the season we seemed to be looking for ways to lose," said San Jose Head Coach Ron Wilson. "It seemed that we didn't have as much energy at the beginning of the season. I am just glad that we are finding ways to win now."
Thornton broke the scoreless tie in the second period on the Sharks' first power play opportunity, when he tipped a rebound past Joseph to extend his three-game goal scoring streak and record his 500th career point. Sjostrom countered just 1:24 later for Phoenix sending a high wrist shot past Toskala at the 8:16 mark of the period.
"We had some big goals to keep tying it up but we needed to find a way to get that lift and get a lead," said Doan. "We just never managed to get a lead."
The Sharks setup a nifty behind the net play to regain their lead on Marleau's tally with 8:43 left in the second period. Cycling behind the net Steve Bernier found a wide-open Marleau, who notched his ninth point in the last four games.
Scatchard made it 2-2 just 12 second into the third period when he tipped Mike Johnson's feed to score his 12th goal of the season. The Sharks took their third lead of the game on Ekman's tally at the 7:47 mark of the third period but Lundmark brought Phoenix back just 2:08 later on a nice tip in front of the net.
Marleau scored his second goal of the game to make it 4-3 with 5:58 left, but as had been the case all game, the Coyotes countered just 1:16 later when Reinprecht scored on a delayed penalty to send the game to overtime.
Steve Gainey and Paul Mara were the lone scratches for the Coyotes. Forward Jamie Lundmark returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with an upper body muscle strain. Mara, meanwhile, missed his second game of the season with an upper body injury. He is listed as day-to-day.
Defensemen Jim Fahey and Doug Murray were out of the Sharks lineup.
Coming into tonight's contest, the Coyotes have killed off 37 of their last 42 shorthanded situations (88.1%) dating back to the second period of the team's 5-3 victory at St. Louis on Jan. 26.
The Coyotes will take a 17-day break for the Winter Olympics but return on March 2, 2006 to continue their franchise-record 10-game homestand against the Dallas Stars. The game time is set for 7:00 p.m.