By DANIEL DULLUM
Sports Radio Service
Friday, February 13, 2015
GLENDALE, Arizona – After the first 20 minutes, the inspired Arizona Coyotes looked like they were primed to take two valuable standings points away from San Jose. But the Sharks asserted themselves in the second and third periods to get a much-needed road victory – and those two points.
Barclay Goodrow’s goal at 6:23 of the third period capped a three-goal comeback for San Jose, as the Sharks held on the edge Arizona 4-2 Friday night before an announced crowd of 16,713 at Gila River Arena.
San Jose (29-20-8, 66 points) kept its hold on second place in the NHL Pacific Division, while the Coyotes have lost three of their last four games, slipping to 20-29-7, 47 points. The win snapped a recent 1-3-2 skid for the Sharks in their last six games.
“All wins are important, and this one was a little bittersweet,” Sharks Coach Todd McLellan said after getting his 300th career NHL coaching victory. “We started out very poor, but were able to come back and bank some very important points. The key is getting back to playing with winning habits and we didn’t do that in the first period.”
Goodrow scooped up a bouncing puck and drove it from the right circle, beating Arizona goaltender Mike Smith just over his glove on the short side for his fourth goal of the season.
San Jose’s Joe Pavelski tacked on an empty net goal with 1:26 to play to seal the game, giving him a three-goal game and his 29th, 30th and 31st goals on the season. Joe Thornton assisted on each of Pavelski’s goals.
“Both Joe’s did a terrific job of demonstrating leadership,” McLellan said “When things are not going well, that’s when our leaders stepped up and straightened some things out. And when it comes from internal motivation where I don’t have to say much, we have a way better chance of succeeding like we did tonight.”
After a shaky first period, Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi settled down to stop all 22 shots he faced over the last two periods, as the Coyotes outshot San Jose 34-25.
Showing improved puck control, the Coyotes took a 2-0 lead in the first period. The first Arizona goal came just 1:42 in, when Mark Arcobello, claimed off waivers two days ago from Pittsburgh, found an opening in the upper left corner, over the right shoulder of Niemi. It was Arcobello’s ninth goal of the season and first as a Coyote.
The second Coyotes goal came on a power play at 15:07, when Martin Erat popped in a one-timer from the slot off Sam Gagner’s feed from the left corner for his eighth goal of the season. Keith Yandle started the play from the point to get the second assist.
But while the first period belonged to Arizona, the second and third periods were all Sharks.
“It seemed like everybody was trying to do too much, and we’d overcommit in some areas,” Pavelski said. “Getting that first goal to start the second period really set the momentum for us.”
San Jose wasted little time cutting their deficit in half, when Pavelski took a feed from behind the net and beat Smith near the crease with a friendly ricochet off a skate blade 27 seconds into the second period. Thornton and Scott Hannan had the assists.
With Oliver Ekman-Larsson serving a roughing penalty (and, essentially, extending the Sharks’ power play to nearly four minutes), Pavelski notched his second goal of the night, converting a one-timer from just inside the right circle past Smith off a feed from Logan Couture at 13:09 of the second period. Thornton received the second assist on the equalizer.
Smith stopped 22 of 25 shots before leaving in favor of a sixth attacker with 1:23 remaining.
“That power play goal was unfortunate and it really hurt us,” Tippett said. “I didn’t like the call on Ekman-Larsson, and those goals in the second period put them (San Jose) back in the game and they had new life after that.
“But for the most part it was an even game,” he added. “(San Jose’s) first goal was a little flukey, but our guys battled hard and just couldn’t get that extra goal.”
SHARK BITES: Arcobello, who played with Edmonton and Nashville earlier this season, also became the first NHL player to pick up at least one point for four different teams in one season since Dennis O’Brien did it in 1977-78. Arcobello is the third player in NHL history to play for four teams in a season. … San Jose D Marc-Edouard Vlasic was scratched for the fourth consecutive game due to an upper-body injury. … The Sharks return home for a Sunday night date with Tampa Bay before hitting the road again for games at Nashville (Feb. 17) and Dallas (Feb. 19).