Boucher made 34 saves, Ladislav Nagy scored the go-ahead goal and the Coyotes snapped a five-game winless streak with a 2-1 victory over the Sharks on Thursday night.
Mike Sillinger also scored for the Coyotes, who snapped the Sharks’ four-game winning streak a day after San Jose beat Phoenix 4-2 in Arizona.
Boucher was outstanding in his first victory since recording his fifth straight shutout earlier in the month. He prevented San Jose from making its usual fast start with 12 saves in the first period, and he made several big saves on San Jose’s 15 shots in the scoreless third period.
Boucher echoed coach Bob Francis’ complaints about his teammates’ effort in their loss Wednesday night, when Sean Burke was in the Coyotes’ net.
“Last night was an uninspired effort, and that’s not acceptable around here,” Boucher said. “We’re a team that’s scrapping for the eighth spot (in the playoffs). San Jose has a big lead, and the division seems out of reach. We have to make every game count if we want the games after the All-Star break to count for anything.”
Phoenix scored two goals in seven minutes during the second period, and Boucher made them stand up. It could be a springboard victory for the Coyotes, who moved into 10th place in the Western Conference with their next six games all at home.
“In the first period, we weren’t much better than we were last night,” Francis said. “Sometimes you go through spells and you start questioning yourself, and I think we’re doing a little bit of that.”
Wayne Primeau scored for the Sharks, who wasted a chance to pad their healthy lead in the Pacific Division against a spiraling opponent. They were a step slow for much of the night, and their power-play slump extended to 1-for-34 in just their third regulation loss in 17 games.
“They were hungry for five or six minutes in the second, and that’s all it took,” Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. “We have to learn a lesson that all the fancy (stuff) we built into the game last night and tonight … will always come back to haunt you.”
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 18 shots for the Sharks, who failed to earn a point at home for just the second time in 18 games. Nabokov was solid, but he probably should have stopped Nagy’s team-leading 21st goal on a wraparound shot midway through the second period.
Nagy, the NHL’s eighth-leading goal scorer, wasn’t chosen to the West All-Star team.
“It was a lucky goal, because I didn’t see it—I just shot it,” Nagy said. “I don’t know what’s happening to us in the first period, but we had a much better effort after that.”
Phoenix managed just three shots in the first period but took a 1-0 lead early in the second when Sillinger followed a rebound of Jeff Taffe’s breakaway chance, muscling the puck under Nabokov. It was Sillinger’s first goal in 22 games since Nov. 30.
Less than four minutes later, Primeau snapped his own 28-game goal-scoring drought by tipping Niko Dimitrakos’ excellent pass past Boucher. Primeau, the younger brother of Philadelphia All-Star Keith Primeau, has earned raves for his checking and defense this season, but he hadn’t scored a goal since Nov. 11.
“We just couldn’t get the break we needed to get one past (Boucher),” Primeau said. “It’s disappointing, but a lot of the effort we need was still there.”
Wilson thought the net was off its moorings when Sillinger scored. “The goal was 6 inches in the air before the puck was even shot,” Wilson fumed. … Nagy nearly has reached his career-high of 23 goals, scored with the Coyotes in 2001-02. … Marco Sturm was back in the Sharks’ lineup after missing Wednesday night’s game to be with his wife, Astrid, as she gave birth to their first child. Nabokov’s wife had their family’s first child last Fridaynight.