The Sharks battled former captain and Owen Nolan and the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Jobing.com Arena and emerged with a 2-1 victory. Evgeni Nabokov faced off against Shark-killer Curtis Joseph, but was forced to leave the game with a stiff neck and Vesa Toskala finished off the contest.
Head Coach Ron Wilson decided to go with the same line-up that defeated the Los Angeles Kings, with defenseman Josh Gorges, along with forwards Ville Nieminen and Scott Parker sitting this one out.
On the shelf for the night for Phoenix was defenseman Nick Boynton, who suffered a foot injury in the Coyotes last game.
Phoenix took the early momentum in the contest sustaining some pressure in the Sharks zone and forcing the line of Rissmiller, Goc and Cheechoo to take an early icing call.
The Coyotes continued to force the play in the Sharks end, getting Nabokov into the game with some scoring attempts, all of which were thwarted by the Sharks netminder. Patrick Marleau
forged San Jose's first shot on goal at 4:59, which was gloved down by Joseph.
At 12:12, Phoenix's Mike Zigomanis took a run at Nabokov, bowling the goaltender to the ice. While Zigomanis was assessed a goaltender interference penalty, referee Mike Hassenfratz assessed Mark Bell a roughing penalty for retaliating against Zigomanis and also added a penalty to Mike Grier for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Just 21 seconds later, Scott Hannan was issued a holding penalty and the Coyotes were handed a five-on-three. Fortunately, the Sharks penalty killers, particularly Kyle McLaren, Curtis Brown and Marcel Goc, along with Nabokov, did a stellar job to keep the game scoreless.
With less than nine minutes to play, Oleg Saprykin skated in alone on Nabokov, who made a fantastic poke-check to deny the scoring chance. On the play, Matt Carle was called for hooking and Phoenix was back on the power play.
The Coyotes appeared to have the first score of the game at 8:34 but the puck was ruled to have been kicked in by Donald MacLean and the power play continued and was eventually thwarted.
Through the game's first 14 minutes, Phoenix was outshooting the Sharks 10-2, but the game was even.
San Jose received a brief five-on-three opportunity with penalties assessed to Patrick Fisher and a bench minor for too many men on the ice but the Coyotes and Joseph held the fort despite a flutter of Sharks shots.
Phoenix finally broke through on their 14th shot of the period. A three-on-two rush began with Saprykin carrying the puck down the near side and feeding Yanic Perreault, who chipped the puck between McLaren's legs, screening Nabokov who never caught sight of the puck as it snuck past and into the net at 19:07.
The Coyotes carried the play in most of the first period, doubling the Sharks seven shots with 14 of their own and Team Teal headed to the locker room knowing they must be better in the middle stanza. And that they were.
Vesa Toskala replaced Nabokov to start the second period as Nabokov was rested for precautionary reasons with a stiff neck.
Due in part to helpers from Scott Hannan and Patrick Marleau
, Steve Bernier tied the game early in the second.
Midway through the middle period, Marleau capped of the scoring with his team leading 11th goal of the season. His linemates Michalek and Bernier picked up the assists on what would be the final scoring of the night.
Phoenix made a dramatic effort to tie the contest throughout the entire third period, outshooting San Jose 15-3, but Toskala was there for each attempt and held on for the victory.
Since San Jose was trailing when he entered, Toskala earned the victory in the record books.