Sharks defeat Coyotes in shootout

Jack Magruder, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Six weeks ago, the San Jose Sharks were among the worst teams in the NHL in shootouts, losing four of its first five. That must seem like a long time ago now.
Center Patrick Marleau's second goal of the game in the second round of the shootout lifted the Sharks to a 4-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday at Arena, the Sharks' third consecutive shootout victory and the fifth in their last six such games.
"It's trends. Some of it's luck. Some of it's getting a bounce. The same guys that were missing are now scoring," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
"Hopefully it stays that way, but it can ebb and flow throughout the season, team to team, goalie to goalie. It's a team game that we turn into an individual skills competition. To me, the game is over when the overtime buzzer goes."
Marleau, who scored on a power play in the second period, beat Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith through the five hole to give the Sharks (24-8-6) the fourth victory in their last five games.
Center Joe Thornton, who had two assists, scored the game-winning goal in a shootout victory over Dallas on Dec. 21, and center Logan Couture had the game-winner in a shootout victory over Colorado on Dec. 23.
"We don't want to be in that position," Marleau said. "We want to try to close teams out in regulation or in overtime, but to have that confidence is nice."
Couture scored in the first round of the shootout after Mikkel Boedker scored for the Coyotes, and Sharks goalie Antti Niemi stopped the final two Coyotes' tries. Niemi, who had 34 saves, has not lost to Phoenix in his last seven starts.
"We've got some guys on the team who over their careers have had a lot of success in the shootouts," Couture said. "You look at the numbers, guys are close to 40 percent, 50 percent (conversion rate). And 'Nemo' has some good numbers in that. We're confident."
Right winger David Moss had his first two-goal game of the season for the Coyotes (19-10-8), who have won only one of their last six games.
"Very competitive game. The game was a toss-up. It came down to one shot in a shootout," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.
Left wing Joe Pavelski and right winger Brent Burns had a goal and an assist for San Jose, which has five points in the first three games between the teams this season.
Smith had 29 saves for Phoenix after being peppered for 103 shots in the first two games between the two this season. It was the Coyotes' fourth straight overtime game, their third loss, two in shootouts.
The teams were playing for the first time in four days after a league-wide holiday break. San Jose, which did not lead until the third period, flew into Phoenix on Friday morning and left after the game.
"On the road sometimes it is easy to let games get away from you and you have to have the will to keep fighting through it, and the guys did a good job," McLellan said.
Moss scored his fourth goal of the season after a giveaway in the San Jose end for the only goal of the first period. Moss intercepted Matt Nieto's errant centering pass from behind his goal and fired a shot high past the glove side of Niemi for an unassisted goal at 7:48 of the period.
"When it goes to a shootout, anything can happen," Moss said. "Any time you are playing close games, you would like 'two' (points). We'll be happy to play in these close games."
Pavelski scored his 16th goal of the season on a shot from a severe angle to Smith's right to tie the score at 1 at 9:56 of the second period, with assists from Thornton and Burns. Thornton has 70 points in 65 career games against the Coyotes.
Moss redirected a centering pass from defenseman David Schlemko at the blue line for a 2-1 lead at 11:04 of the second period. Schlemko was activated before the game after missing the last three games with a lower-body injury.
"He's very good in front of the net," Tippett said.
Marleau's power-play goal tied it at 2 later in the period, after center Tommy Wingels brought the puck down the right side and fed Marleau in the slot for his 17th goal of the season.
Burns made it 3-2 lead midway through the third period on a centering pass from Pavelski before Coyotes right winger Radim Vrbata tied the score at 3 on a power-play goal at 13:35 of the third period.
NOTES: Coyotes captain C Shane Doan (Rocky Mountain spotted fever) hopes to return Tuesday for a game against Edmonton, but there is no official timetable. He has missed the last nine games. ... San Jose C Tomas Hertl, who leads NHL rookies with 25 points, missed his third straight game with a right knee injury that is expected to sideline him a month and keep him from playing with the Czech Republic in the Winter Olympics. ... The Coyotes play six of their next seven games at home, with a road game against Pacific Division-leading Anaheim on Saturday before a six-game homestand that begins against Edmonton on New Year's Eve. Anaheim has won nine straight games and is second in the league with 59 points. ... Friday marked the 10th anniversary of the Coyotes' first game at Arena, on Dec. 27, 2003, a 3-1 loss to Nashville.