San Jose Sharks goaltender Alexei Melnichuk (1) puts the stop on the Arizona Coyotes center Lane Peterson’s (93) putting the puck on net in the second period at SAP Center in San Jose Sat May 8, 2021 (AP News photo)
By Mary Walsh
The San Jose Sharks lost 5-4 in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes Saturday. For the Coyotes, it was the last game of the season. Arizona’s five goals came from Christian Dvorak (2), Jan Jenik, Conor Garland and Phil Kessel. Aiden Hill made 44 saves for the win. Rudolfs Balcers, Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier and Alexander Barabanov scored for the Sharks. Alexei Melnichuk made 27 saves in his first NHL start.
After the game, Sharks Head Coach Bob Boughner was asked about Rudolfs Balcers. He said:
“He’s another young guy that has probably played, with the schedule, more hockey than he’s ever been used to. And you can tell that some of these guys are hitting a little bit of a wall, physically and mentally. You know, I think once Rudy goes back in the offseason and trains and puts on a little more muscle and comes back after three months or three and a half months, and gets a regular training camp, I think you’re going to see even a better Rudy. He’s made major strides.”
Christian Dvorak scored during some four-on-four time at 3:32 of the first period. After skating away from the Sharks defense, he made his way to the slot and put a shot over Melnichuk’s shoulder. Assists went to Phil Kessel and Oliver Ekman-Larssen.
Rudolfs Balcers tied the game at 6:44. Alexander Chmelesvki carried the puck in along the boards and found Balcers in the slot with a pass. Balcers took the shot and the puck snuck under Hill and trickled over the line. Assists went to Chmelevski and Dylan Gambrell.
Dvorak scored his second of the period on a power play at 11:36. Christian Fischer set Dvorak up with a pass from below the goal line. Dvorak’s shot went by Melnichuk’s glove and in. Assists went to Fischer and Phil Kessel.
Kevin Labanc tied it back up at 15:28. Labanc skated into the zone with the puck while Erik Karlsson drew some attention from the defense. Labanc took the shot above the face-off circle and the puck flew around a defenseman and past Hill, just inside the post.
The Sharks out-shot the Coyotes 19-8 in the first period. The Coyotes had one shot in two power plays, and the Sharks had one shot in one power play in the first period.
Timo Meier gave the Sharks a lead at 5:26 of the second period. Meier caught a pass for Kevin Labanc as he skated into the zone. Fending off Alex Goligoski with one arm while driving to the net, Meier skated in front of the blue paint and pushed the puck around the goalie. Labanc got the assist.
Jan Janik tied it up again with a shot from a bad angle. The puck went behind Melnichuck’s head and hit just inside the far post. Assists went to Christian Fischer and Victor Soderstrom.
The Coyotes out-shot the Sharks 17-14 in the second period. The Sharks’ power play had two shots on goal in the period.
Conor Garland gave the Coyotes another lead at 16:07 of the third period. Garland skated around the defense for a pass in front of the goal. He was able to tuck the puck over the line into the far side. Assists went to Goligoski and Jakob Chychrun.
Alexander Barabanov tied the game again with 49 seconds to go in regulation. With the net empty and an extra skater for the Sharks, Evander Kane sent the puck to Tomas Hertl at the net, and Hertl passed it over to Barabanov just above the goal line. Barabanov took a quick shot into an open net. Assists went to Hertl and Kane.
The Sharks out-shot the Coyotes 14-4 in the third period, and had two shots on one power play.
Phil Kessel scored the game winner 2:30 into overtime. Kessel intercepted Dylan Gambrell’s pass to Erik Karlsson in the neutral zone. He skated into the Sharks zone and put a shot under Melnichuk before the goalie knew where it was.
The Sharks will play their last game of the season on Wednesday in San Jose, against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights at 6:00 PM PT.