Coyotes 2, Sharks 1

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- Phoenix defensemen Michael Stone and Keith Yandle scored in the first period, and goaltender Mike Smith beat the San Jose Sharks for the sixth time in the past two seasons in the Coyotes' 2-1 victory Wednesday at Arena.
San Jose's loss sets up a showdown against the Los Angeles Kings to determine which team will have a higher seed in the playoffs. The two teams are tied for fourth with 57 points heading into their final game.
The Sharks (25-14-7) and Kings (26-26-5) will meet Saturday in Los Angeles, the final regular-season game for both. The Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
The St. Louis Blues have 56 points with two games left, so they could slip past San Jose and Los Angeles to claim the fourth spot and home-ice advantage in the first round of the postseason.
Smith won both his starts against San Jose this season, and he has four shutouts against them in eight starts the past two years. The Sharks' only goal against him Wednesday came after a defensive giveaway in the Coyotes' end early in the second period.
Brent Burns scored his ninth goal of the season, cutting the Coyotes' lead 2-1, when he intercepted an errant clearing pass from Oliver Ekman-Larsson at the right circle and scored unassisted 3 1/2 minutes into the middle period.
Smith had 33 saves.
The Sharks gave goaltender Antti Niemi a day off, ending his streak of 21 straight starts. Niemi, who leads the league with 24 victories, had a 35-save shutout in Phoenix on April 13 and also shut out the Coyotes in a 1-0 shootout loss Feb. 9 in San Jose. Niemi played all but 13 minutes during his 21-start run.
The Coyotes scored twice in the first period on Niemi's replacement, Thomas Greiss. Stone scored his career-high fifth goal on a shot from the right circle that beat Greiss high to the stick side at 11:56.
Yandle got his 10th goal with a slap shot from the right point on a power play at 17:52 that appeared to deflect off a San Jose defender in front of the net. Eight of Yandle's goal have come at home.
Coyotes forward Shane Doan, who assisted on both goals, has 814 career points. With two games to play, he is in position to catch Thomas Steen (817) for second place in franchise history behind Dale Hawerchuk (929).
The Coyotes, who won Pacific Division and made the Western Conference finals last season, were eliminated from playoff consideration Tuesday when Minnesota beat Los Angeles 2-1, the Wild's fourth win in its last 12 games. The Coyotes (20-18-8) lose any tiebreaker for the No. 8 spot in West even if they win their final two games.
NOTES: The Sharks held out veteran center Scott Gomez and defenseman Scott Hannan in preparation for the playoffs, which begin Tuesday. Gomez, who has two goals and 13 assists this season, registered his 700th career point on a power-play assist Sunday against Columbus. Hannan, reacquired from Nashville at the April 16 trade deadline for a conditional 2013 draft pick, had played in two of the previous three games. ... The Coyotes announced Monday they signed 2012 first-round draft pick forward Henrik Samuelsson to a three-year, entry-level contract. Samuelsson, the son of long-time NHL defenseman and former Coyotes assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson, had 32 goals and 47 assists in 67 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League this season. Samuelsson was the 27th pick in the 2012 draft. His father played 18 seasons in the NHL. ... San Jose's streak of nine consecutive playoff appearances is the second longest active streak behind Detroit, 21. The Red Wings are in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, one point ahead of Columbus and four ahead of Dallas with two games to play. ... The Coyotes played without forward Rob Klinkhammer (upper-body injury) and defenseman Derek Morris (lower-body injury).

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