SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Wayne Gretzky is learning new things about his team each game. This time, the Phoenix Coyotes won their first shootout when San Jose had all the momentum.
Geoff Sanderson scored the deciding goal in a shootout, and the Coyotes sent the Sharks to their fifth straight defeat with a 4-3 victory Saturday night.
``It's a win they should be proud of,'' said Gretzky, a part-owner of the team in his first season as coach. ``I like the way we fought and competed.''
Sanderson, the fourth Phoenix shooter, faked goalie Evgeni Nabokov and found the net. San Jose's Nils Ekman then missed on the other end and the Sharks lost the shootout 2-1. Mike Comrie scored on Phoenix's second attempt to tie the shootout score after Niko Dimitrakos converted on San Jose's first chance.
The Sharks' five-game skid is their longest losing streak since also dropping five straight from March 14-22, 2001, part of a six-game winless stretch.
The Sharks tied it at 3 with two third-period goals, then the teams went scoreless through the overtime despite San Jose playing a man up because Derek Morris drew a holding penalty.
Sanderson was surprised to be picked for the shootout.
``I appreciate the opportunity he gave me,'' Sanderson said. ``I wasn't sure what I was going to do. He (Nabokov) had both feet planted and wasn't backing up. I wanted to get around him and I reached to make the shot.''
Wayne Primeau scored an unassisted power-play goal with 15:20 remaining in the third period and Tom Preissing tied it at 3 at 11:47, capitalizing when goalie Curtis Joseph was drawn out of the goal to defend a shot by Dimitrakos. The puck stopped several feet in front of the goal and Preissing easily tapped it in.
Comrie scored his seventh goal of the season 3:11 into the first period to give the Coyotes the lead, then Ladislav Nagy made it 2-0 just 54 seconds later.
Comrie scored after the puck rebounded off the post on Morris' shot from just inside the blue line.
After the ensuing faceoff, Denis Gauthier took a slap shot that deflected off goalie Nabokov, and Nagy skated in and scored from close range for his sixth goal of the year. That gave Nagy a five-game points streak, the longest of the season by the Coyotes.
``It's tough,'' Dimitrakos said. ``We keep putting ourselves behind because we don't play the way we should in the first two periods. We don't play with a sense of urgency.''
San Jose has been sloppy with the puck at times recently, struggling to keep possession and take advantage of special-teams opportunities.
Sharks coach Ron Wilson plans to stop preaching the importance of quick starts despite the fact San Jose has been outscored 24-13 in the first period this season.
``It seems that we come out tight thinking about that. There's some kind of mental block right now,'' Wilson said. ``The worm's to turn here, and it's probably going to turn on this road trip. I can feel it coming.''
Mike Ricci returned to his former ice for the first time in the regular season since the popular center signed with the Coyotes in July 2004 after playing parts of seven seasons in San Jose. He received a deafening ovation as a video tribute was played on the main scoreboard.
Patrick Marleau scored his eighth goal of the season early in the second period while San Jose was on a power play, rebounding his own shot several feet in front of the net and making good on his second attempt.
It was just the Sharks' second goal in 32 opportunities when playing with a one-man advantage during their losing streak.
San Jose gave up a power-play goal shortly after when Dave Scatchard one-timed it from the right faceoff circle for his fifth goal and first with the Coyotes since joining them in a trade from Boston on Friday.
With the Sharks behind 2-0, Scatchard cross-checked Scott Thornton with 10:27 left in the first period and the two began throwing punches that took them to the ice, giving the Sharks a power-play chance.
This marked the first of eight regular-season meetings between the Pacific Division rivals after the Sharks won two preseason meetings.
Notes: Wings Josh Langfeld and Steve Bernier and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff were healthy scratches for the Sharks. ... San Jose is 17-of-130 on the power play this season. ... Nabokov has surrendered nine goals in three games since returning from a left shoulder injury. ... Before the game, the Coyotes claimed C Yanick Lehoux off waivers from Los Angeles.