Posted March 09, 2012 on
AP on Fox
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes have each been atop the Pacific Division in the past two weeks.
Neither, however, has been able to maintain that position.
In a matchup between teams desperate for two points, the scuffling Sharks and Coyotes take the ice Saturday night in Arizona.
By opening 2012 with a 10-3-2 run, San Jose (33-24-9) took over first in the division, and it looked like Todd McLellan's team was primed to capture its fifth straight Pacific title. A 5-3 loss at Phoenix on Feb. 4, however, took the steam out of the Sharks' surge and gave life to the Coyotes.
Starting with the win over San Jose - highlighted by two goals from Lauri Korpikoski - Phoenix went 11-0-1 in February. As the Sharks proceeded to free fall, the Coyotes (33-25-10) moved into a first-place tie with San Jose on Feb. 21 after trailing by 12 points three weeks earlier.
Phoenix has gone 0-4-1 this month, however, and now trails Pacific-leading Dallas by three points.
San Jose is also winless in March (0-2-2) and is 4-10-3 since losing to the Coyotes last month to drop four points back of the Stars.
The Sharks were on the verge of earning two points in Dallas on Thursday after Joe Pavelski put them in front 3-2 with his 24th goal at 16:28 of the third period. Tomas Vincour tied the score with 15 seconds left in regulation, however, and had the lone goal in the shootout to hand San Jose a 4-3 loss.
"We just can't give up that last goal," said Pavelski, who has scored twice in his last 12 games. "There definitely was some good out there, but it's tough to accept when you don't get two points. We've got to find a way to win."
The Coyotes are feeling the same way, looking to avoid their first six-game skid since Jan. 27-Feb. 7, 2009.
Phoenix showed some fight Thursday against Minnesota, rallying from a two-goal deficit in the third period as Raffi Torres and Korpikoski scored, but it fell in a shootout 3-2.
The Coyotes allowed two first-period goals and have been outscored 10-1 in the opening 20 minutes over their last five games.
"We're not the kind of team geared to come from behind," backup goaltender Jason LaBarbera said. "We play better with a lead, and that's our identity. When you're chasing the game, it makes everything much more difficult on everybody."
The Coyotes could have better luck against a Sharks team that has scored two first-period goals in its last four games.
Both teams might be in better shape if they could get their power plays going.
The Coyotes are 2 for 21 with the man advantage during their losing streak, while the Sharks have failed to score on all 10 power-play chances during their skid.
San Jose's offense as a whole has been sluggish lately, scoring three goals or fewer in 11 straight games and no more than two in eight of them. Logan Couture, tied with Patrick Marleau for the team lead with 27 goals, has gone a season-worst six games without a score.
That lack of firepower has made things tough on Antti Niemi, who has a 2.18 goals-against average in starting all four games of the Sharks' losing streak. In his lone start of the season against the Coyotes last month, Niemi allowed four goals on 23 shots.
Phoenix's Mike Smith has been between the pipes for the season's first three meetings, going 2-1-0 with a 3.03 GAA. He is 0-3-0 with a 3.63 GAA in his last four starts.
BEST OF MAXIM
The San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes have each been atop the Pacific Division in the past two weeks. Neither, however, has been able to maintain that position. In a matchup between teams desperate for two points, the scuffling Sharks and Coyotes take the ice Saturday night in Arizona. By opening 2012 with a 10-3-2 run, San Jose (33-24-9) took over first in the division,...
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So what’s wrong with the San Jose Sharks?
They have fallen from the ranks of Stanley Cup contenders. At the moment, they are fighting just to make the playoffs.“We're not winning games,” coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News. “That's what's wrong. It's as simple as that.”
OK then. Here are some additional details on this team's stunning...
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All Mike Smith needed was some rest.
After taking a few days off, Smith returned to the Coyotes net and stopped 42 shots in Phoenix's 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks Saturday night.
Mikkel Boedker and Michael Stone scored second-period goals, and Raffi Torres added his 12th of the season early in the third for the Coyotes, who snapped a five-game losing streak. Phoenix has...
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The San Jose Sharks continue to lose ground in the hunt for a playoff spot after they lost for the second time in a row against a divisional rival that is ahead of them in the standings.
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Mike Smith stopped 42 shots and Mikkel Boedker and Michael Stone scored second-period goals and the Phoenix Coyotes defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-0 Saturday.
Raffi Torres added his 12th goal of the season early in the third period for Phoenix, which ended a five-game losing streak. The Coyotes have 78 points and are in seventh place in the Western Conference.
Smith earned his...
Dany Heatley scored in the fifth round of the shootout to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.
After Wild goalie Matt Hackett stopped Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Heatley put a backhand past Jason LaBarbera for the win. LaBarbera made 22 saves.
Hackett took over for Josh Harding, who left with a lower-body injury in the second period.
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A rare Phoenix stunned pic. Usually no one in the stands to get a pic of:
Hope Shane Doan is off to side vomiting.
SHARKS AT PHOENIX
Faceoff: 5 p.m. at Jobing.com Arena
TV/Radio: CSNCA, 98.5, 102.1, 92
Coyotes update: Phoenix soared to the top of the Pacific Division with an 11-0-1 February, but -- much like San Jose -- has been in a near free fall since March arrived, going 0-4-1 -- with two of those losses coming to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Coyotes' lone point came in a 3-2 shootout...