Couture's shootout goal sends Sharks past Coyotes

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Logan Couture was the hero in a shootout after Marc-Edouard Vlasic gave himself a birthday present with the San Jose Sharks' 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.
Couture was the lone goal-scorer in the shootout as San Jose extended its winning streak to four games and moved one point ahead of Detroit into sixth place in the Western Conference standings.
Phoenix lost for the eighth time in nine games to remain in 13th place, just two points out of eighth.
"Obviously, our team is desperate for points right now. Our team competed hard out there," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "It was a tight game, comes down to a shootout. Unfortunately, we didn't get the extra point."
San Jose goalie Antti Niemi stopped Steve Sullivan, Radim Vrbata and Mikkel Boedker in the shootout after Couture led off and gave the Sharks the edge immediately.
"I went with a lot of speed; he's a big goalie," Couture said of his shootout goal that beat Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera. "I saw the five-hole and went for it."
San Jose held a 32-27 edge in shots through regulation and each team produced two shots during the scoreless sudden death.
Vlasic celebrated his 26th birthday by tying the score late with his second goal of the season. He followed his shot behind the net and put in a rebound of a Joe Pavelski drive at 15:00.
"It should be my birthday more often," Vlasic joked. "It feels good to score on your birthday. I gave myself a present."
Tippett said, "It's unfortunate the tying goal we had a shot hit a stick and we had a broken stick. It's just a bad break. It just seems like we've had a couple of them lately and it's cost us some points."
The Coyotes scored a tiebreaking goal just 33 seconds after the puck was dropped to start the third period.
Shane Doan drove the right boards and spotted Vrbata filling an open spot in the slot. Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was out of position, opening the passing lane. Forward Tommy Wingels was late trying to cover for Burns as Vrbata beat Niemi from close range for his seventh goal of the season.
"We're a confident team in here," Couture said. "We didn't sag on the bench, we kept going after them. We knew we were playing well. ... we were confident we could come back."
The Sharks evened the score midway through the second period, but it took their first power play in three games to get the job done.
Phoenix forward Rob Klinkhammer drew four minutes for high-sticking San Jose defenseman Justin Braun, who was cut on the play. The Sharks managed three shots and hit two posts during the first two minutes of the double-minor before converting early during the second power play.
Pavelski stepped into a Joe Thornton drop pass to the right point and beat LaBarbera top shelf at 10:24 for a goal in a fourth straight game and his 11th of the season.
"That's the way games are going to be now, they're so tight," Tippett said. "Both teams are scratching and clawing for points."
The Coyotes scored the only goal of a fast-paced first period during which the Sharks enjoyed a 14-11 edge in shots.
Klinkhammer drove behind the net and fed the puck in front, where teammate Boyd Gordon beat Thornton to the crease and put a backhander over goalie Niemi's left shoulder at 14:43.
The goal ended Niemi's shutout streak at 136:23 spanning consecutive shutouts and to the third period against Anaheim on March 25.
"When they get the lead, they're hard to play against," Vlasic said. "It was a good comeback for us after they scored at the beginning of the third. That was tough. Guys battled back and we got two points."
NOTES: Sharks defenseman Jason Demers did not play because of a hit to the jaw he absorbed early against Detroit on Thursday. Brent Burns dropped back on defense after having played the last nine games at forward (scoring five goals and 10 points). ... Rookie defenseman Matt Tennyson didn't arrive in time to play after a cross-country flight from AHL affiliate Worcester. Tennyson is expected to be added to the roster Sunday. ... Forward Adam Burish, a healthy scratch for two games, took Burns' spot at right wing on San Jose's top line. ... Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle appeared in his 400th NHL game. ... Coyotes No. 1 goalie Mike Smith (upper body) remained on injured reserve. ... Center Michal Handzus was San Jose's lone healthy scratch. Forwards Paul Bissonette and Lauri Korpikoski, nursing an upper-body injury, did not dress for Phoenix.

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