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Vermette, Dubnyk lift Coyotes to win against Sharks

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- The Arizona Coyotes got the fast start they were looking for Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks, jumping to a 2-0 first-period lead at SAP Center.

As it turned out, the Coyotes needed an even stronger finish to escape with a 4-3 shootout victory.

Antoine Vermette scored a power-play goal early in the first period and scored the only goal in the shootout, beating Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi in the third round. But it was a spectacular penalty kill in overtime that gave Vermette a chance for his game-ending goal in the tiebreaker.

"Yeah, that was huge," Vermette said of the PK. "Four-on-three, obviously it's a big opportunity for them, and every time it seems if a team can battle through it, usually you like your chances."

The Sharks went on a power play at 1:05 of overtime when Shane Doan went to the penalty box for high sticking against Matt Nieto. San Jose turned up the pressure on Arizona goaltender Devan Dubnyk, but he survived a flurry of shots, including two by Joe Pavelski, and Arizona killed the penalty.

"We had some unbelievable efforts, pucks off goal lines, guys clearing pucks and battling," said Dubnyk, who made 40 saves over 65 minutes. "So it was fun, and I thought we played a real good road game. A tough building to play in. Obviously they're going to come and get their chances. I thought we held on to the puck well and played really well."

The Sharks came within inches of ending the game in overtime during their power play.

"It looked like it was going in," Pavelski said. "[Logan Couture] mentioned it might have hit his stick on the way out too. It's the way it's been going. Not good enough. We'll keep working through it."

David Schlemko and Doan also scored for Arizona (9-10-2), which improved to 6-1-0 against Pacific Division opponents. The Coyotes are 1-1-0 with one left on their three-game road trip.

Dubnyk, making his sixth start of the season, improved to 5-0-1.

Tommy Wingels, Andrew Desjardins and Pavelski each scored a goal for San Jose (10-10-3), which saw its losing streak grow to three games, including back-to-back shootout losses. Niemi made 22 saves.

"Slow starts, they always hurt," Pavelski said. "We worked, we kept going as the game went on. We had chances there at the end. We just have to find a way to win. We had the puck a lot, especially the second half. It's still about managing the game when the game is tied, making that simple play. We've got to learn that lesson over and over. But it's got to stay with us one of these times."

Dubnyk stopped all three shots in the shootout, when he faced Couture, Pavelski and Barclay Goodrow. After Goodrow was rejected, Vermette beat Niemi to the stick side to end the game.

"I tried to make him move and tried to outwait a little bit, see what was going to open to me, and I found a way to score," Vermette said. "So it was good timing."

The Coyotes built a 2-0 lead in the first period, gave it all back in the second, and then moved ahead 3-2 at 52 seconds of the third period on Doan's seventh goal, all of which have come on the road.

Sharks forward Tomas Hertl mishandled a puck in San Jose's end, and Arizona capitalized. Sam Gagner fired a shot that Niemi saved but couldn't control, and Doan put the rebound past the Sharks goalie from close range.

San Jose answered with Pavelski's power-play goal at 7:47 of the third. Brent Burns unleashed a rocket from just inside the blue line, and Pavelski redirected the puck past Dubnyk for his ninth goal, which leads the Sharks, and 200th of his career.

Pavelski had another prime scoring chance in the final minute of regulation, but Dubnyk made the save on his shot from the right circle.

The Coyotes grabbed a 1-0 lead at 4:58 of the first period when Vermette scored from the low slot on the power play with Hertl in the penalty box for interference.

Mikkel Boedker sent the puck toward the net from the right circle, and Doan got it to a wide-open Vermette, who slid a shot under Niemi's left pad. It was the fifth goal for Vermette, and the Coyotes had a power-play goal for the fifth time in their past six games.

Arizona made it 2-0 at 12:05 of the first period when Schlemko scored his first goal since Oct. 26, 2013, snapping a goal drought of 46 games. Trailing on a Coyotes rush, Schlemko took a pass from Boedker in the slot and wristed a shot over Niemi's left shoulder with Vermette providing a screen. Boedker earned his second assist of the game, the 100th of his career.

"I knew they were going to come hard in the first period," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said of the Sharks. "I felt we pushed back well."

The Sharks scored two unanswered goals in the second period to pull even.

Wingels scored San Jose's first shorthanded goal of the season at 4:11 of the second, cutting Arizona's lead to 2-1 and energizing the Sharks.

Goodrow won a battle for the puck along the boards with Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, igniting a 3-on-1 rush. Goodrow zipped a cross-ice pass to Wingels, who ripped the puck past Dubnyk, snapping his 10-game goal drought.

Desjardins made it 2-2 at 17:53 of the second period with his first goal of the season. Tyler Kennedy unleashed a shot from above the right circle that Dubnyk saved. But the rebound went off Dubnyk's right pad to a hard-charging Desjardins in the left circle, and Desjardins buried his shot.

The Sharks scored one more goal but never took a lead.

"Too many mistakes," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "Defensively, lapses that cost us. At the other end, when you get three, you should win the game. A lot of shots on goal, a lot of shot attempts, a lot of possession -- faceoffs were good -- but at the end of it, we weren't detailed enough with the puck during certain moments of the game, and they got enough to win."

Defenseman Brenden Dillon made his debut for San Jose, one day after being acquired from the Dallas Stars for defenseman Jason Demers and a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. Dillon, who was paired with Burns, had four hits, one shot and blocked four shots.

"Coaches did a great job preparing me for the game," Dillon said. "Guys are great in the room. [Burns is] easy to play with and great communicating on the bench between every shift."

"We had a bunch of chances on that power play in OT. It's just something the puck doesn't get over the line."

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