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Coyotes' Smith notches his fourth shutout of Sharks

The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith still has San Jose's number.

Smith was perfect all game to record his fourth career shutout against the Sharks while Mikkel Boedker and Radim Vrbata scored in the shootout for a 1-0 win on Saturday.

"He made some big saves at the right times, some tough saves of shots that came from the point through a lot of traffic," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "He gave us a chance to win."

Smith stopped San Jose's Michal Handzus and James Sheppard in the shootout. He didn't need to face a third skater because the Coyotes' first two shooters converted against Sharks goalie Antti Niemi, who recorded his 20th career shutout nonetheless.

"Tonight we responded with a lot better effort and more of the kind of hockey we're used to playing," Smith said of the Coyotes' rebound from a blowout loss at home to Chicago. "Hat's off to the guys, we hung around all game and found a way to win at the end."

The Sharks managed 33 shots between regulation and overtime, but saw their top players continue to stay off the scoreboard. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are scoreless in the past five games after starting the season with 14 points apiece in San Jose's first six contests.

San Jose's power play was ineffective again, failing on all four chances to extend a streak to only one power-play goal out of 25 opportunities spanning six games.

"Power play was not as sharp as it needs to be," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "There will have to be some adjustments there. We'll look at personnel and move some people around."

Smith had a lot to do with that. San Jose managed six shots during 7:16 of man-advantage time.

"One of his biggest assets is playing pucks," Sharks forward Ryane Clowe said. "He knocks down hard rims; he knocks down hard chips. That can frustrate a team. I don't think we got any shots on the top half of the net. Give him a lot of credit; he played great."

It was a particularly satisfying win since Phoenix was 0-2-1 on the road coming into the game and lost the services of top-line forward Martin Hanzel to an undisclosed injury after three shifts and 2:13 in the third period.

"Losing your top center puts a hole in things, but I thought our guys hung in there and we found a way to get two points," Tippett said.

The Sharks doubled their shot output over the first 40 minutes by putting 15 on net in the third. Phoenix managed just three shots on goal in the period.

A tight-checking second period featured no goals and just 13 combined shots on goal.

The Sharks extended a streak to 33 straight penalty kills by stopping Phoenix on two middle-period advantages. And the Sharks did not manage a shot on their first power play or during the first 46 seconds of a late advantage that carried over to the third period.

A scoreless and penalty-free first period featured nine shots on goal from each team. The Sharks put on a push late in the period, working in close and trying to set screens in front of the 6-foot-4 Smith.

"We played well defensively," McLellan said. "I thought we generated enough to have a chance to win and beat a real good goaltender. I'll have to look how aggressive we are in and around the paint and whether we're being a little too cute and too fancy."

NOTES: Tippett coached his 750th NHL game Saturday. Tippett's 410 wins since 2002-03 are second most in the league to Mike Babcock's 424 with Detroit and Anaheim. ... Defenseman Brent Burns made his season debut after having missed the first 10 games and training camp while recovering from offseason hernia surgery. Burns paired with Brad Stuart and logged 20:38 of ice time. Rookie defenseman Matt Irwin was assigned to Worcester of the AHL to open a roster spot for Burns. ... Phoenix left wing Paul Bissonette and defenseman Chris Summers were healthy scratches while defenseman Douglas Murray, Nick Petrecki and forward Andrew Desjardins did not dress for San Jose. ... The Sharks start a six-game, 13-day trip on Tuesday. It is their longest trip of the season.

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