San Jose Sharks Saturday game wrap: Burns scores twice, Dell sharp in Sharks win over Coyotes 4-1

February 18, 2017

NHL, San Jose Sharks

prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com file photo: San Jose Sharks Brett Burns who scored twice at Gila River Arena on Saturday night in Glendale against the Arizona Coyotes

By DANIEL DULLUM
Sports Radio Service
Saturday, February 18, 2017

GLENDALE, Ariz. – When it comes to his All-Star defenseman Brett Burns, San Jose coach Peter DeBoer is running out of new words of praise.

“He’s having an MVP season,” DeBoer said of Burns, who is third in the NHL scoring race with 61 points, trailing only Connor McDavid of Edmonton and Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh. “He’s been that good for us all year, and it’s every night.

“I don’t know what else to say. In my mind, he’s the best player in the league. We’re happy to have him on our team.”

Burns scored his 26th and 27th goals of the season, backup goaltender Aaron Dell was near perfect in the nets, and the Sharks bested Arizona 4-1 before a sellout crowd of 17,446 at Gila River Arena – many of them sporting Sharks apparel.

With Martin Jones taking the night off, Dell stepped in and stopped 36 of 37 shots while improving his record to 7-3-1.

“I handled a lot of shots early, and I think that helped get a little more comfortable,” Dell said. “It’s always nice to get a big lead. I think we found our game a little bit,” he added. “This was one of the more solid games we’ve put together in a while. A big part of it was having guys blocking shots, bearing down on stuff. We had Burnsie back there putting the puck in the net.

“(The Coyotes) have given us a hard time this year and we didn’t want to take them for granted. We brought our game up to, I think, the level we can play at.”

“(Dell) had a great camp and every time out, he’s been really good every time we’ve put him in there, DeBoer said of the University of North Dakota product.

San Jose (35-18-6, 74 points) holds a four-point lead in the NHL Pacific Division over Edmonton and a six-point edge over idle Anaheim.
The Sharks were 4-2-4 in their previous 10 games, including an overtime win over Florida on Feb. 15.

With the victory, San Jose finished their season series 2-1-2 against the Coyotes.

Arizona (20-30-7, 47 points) is mired in the basement of the Pacific, joining Vancouver as the only division teams out of the playoff picture. The only drama remaining for the Coyotes is a) whether or not they deal popular captain Shane Doan to a contender at the trading deadline, and b) finding yet another new location for their proposed new arena in any place but Glendale.

One of the biggest takeaways from the victory, DeBoer said, was finally getting the best of Mike Smith, the Coyotes’ All-Star netminder who was named to the team’s 20th anniversary (in Arizona) Starting Six before the game.

The Sharks scored on four of their 29 shots against Smith.

“There was a lot of energy in the building, and we got to Smitty in the first period, which was big,” Sharks left wing Joe Pavelski said. “He’s stopped a lot of pucks against us the last few games we faced him, so when you get one or two in on him early on, it breaks him down a little bit.”

“It was critical for us to get some goals off of Smith,” DeBoer said. “He’s had our number this year. Those early goals gave Aaron a little bit of a comfort zone – when you’re up 3-0, I think the whole team plays differently. And the goalie knows with a lead like that, you can make a mistake and it won’t hurt you.”

Burns continued that “MVP” level of play with the game’s first goal at 9:01 of the first period, his 26th of the season. Burns took a pass from Melker Karlsson along the boards, circled toward the high slot, and flipped a strong wrister through traffic and past Smith on the stick side.

Nearly six minutes later, Karlsson made it 2-0 for San Jose. At 14:49, Karlsson took a headman pass from Logan Couture near the right point at the blue line, and sent a low wrist shot from high in the right circle – under a Coyotes defender – past Smith’s left side under his blocker.

Less than three minutes into the second period, Michael Haley tallied his first goal of the season less than three minutes into the second period, extending the Sharks’ lead to 3-0. Paul Martin held a clearing pass in at the blue line and found Haley, whose wrist shot from the left slot eluded Smith under his stick.

“Our fourth line just showed up and played the right way,” DeBoer said. “Right from the drop of the puck, they put pucks behind (the Coyotes’) defense, they had good support, they created a lot of chances and got rewarded for it.

“I think Dell, and the fourth line, were the difference in the game.”

The Coyotes broke through in the first minute of the third period when Martin Hanzal he got an extended stick on a rebound from Alex Goligoski’s initial shot from the right point, pushing it past a prone Dell. Hanzal’s 15th goal of the season cut the Arizona deficit to 3-1.

Burns scored the final Sharks goal with the first shot of a power play late in the third period. No sooner did Arizona’s Radim Vrbata get the gate for hi-sticking at 16:30, Joe Thornton won the draw, steered it to Couture behind the circle, who fed Burns circling toward the high slot. The bearded defenseman one-timed Couture’s pass through Smith’s five-hole five seconds into the man advantage.

After returning to the Shark Tank to host Boston on Sunday night, San Jose takes its league-mandated bye week before returning to the ice on Feb. 25 at Vancouver.

“It’ll be great to go into the break on a winning note and get some separation between us and the other teams in the conference,” Dell said. “Getting those extra points will make it a more fun break.”

SHARK BITES: San Jose’s scratches were LW Marcus Sorensen, RW Joonas Donskoi and D Mirco Mueller. …. The Coyotes, celebrating their 20th anniversary in the Valley, saluted players from the 1996-97 team.

TAGS: San Jose Sharks,Brett Burns,Aaron Dell,Arizona Coyotes,NHL,Sports Radio Service,Daniel Dullum

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