The Hangover- A mere 24 hours after clinching a birth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the San Jose Sharks looked a little tired and hung-over having to play a road game in Phoenix Wednesday night. Michael Stone and Keith Yandle each scored first period goals while Coyotes Goalie Mike Smith made 33 saves as the desert dogs defeated the Sharks 2-1 before a crowd of over 12,000 at the Jobbing.com arena in Glendale, AZ. Brent Burns scored the Sharks lone goal in the second period taking advantage of a turnover from Oliver Ekman-Larsson on an errant pass attempt in the Coyotes defensive zone. Thomas Greiss started in goal for the Sharks tonight and had a rough opening period. Greiss however would rebound to make 30 saves on the evening keeping team teal in the game. The Sharks regular starting goalie Antti Niemi was given the night off.
Greiss was Nice, Smith was Better- The goalies were the main story of the game as each one was able to endure though many of their opponent’s scoring chances and power play opportunities. Greiss held his own through the first period making 14 saves. The team teal backup netminder would get better as they game moved along. Outside of a bad turnover by his defense that led to a goal, Mike Smith was on his game the whole evening and endured several Sharks scoring chances particularly over the last two periods. Greiss was burned for a power play goal by Yandle shorty after Matt Tennyson was called for hooking. Earlier in the period on Stone’s goal, the Sharks defense was caught napping as they left Stone alone on the left side of their defensive zone. In the final period the Sharks had several more scoring chances and outshot the Coyotes 13-5. Despite their best efforts however they simply could not find an answer to solve Smith.
End Results- The Sharks with the loss do not lose ground in the Western Conference Standings to the Los Angeles Kings who fell 3-1 against the Red Wings in Detroit earlier in the evening. The Kings and Sharks each have 57 points in the standings with one game left against each other this coming Saturday night. Meanwhile lurking behind both of them is the St Louis Blues who have two games remaining, both at home versus Calgary Thursday Night, then Chicago Saturday evening. With the Blackhawks having clinched home ice throughout the post season, Chicago may opt to rest key players in their game Saturday. The Sharks cannot finish any lower that the sixth seed. Should that happen team teal would likely play three seed Vancouver in the first round. If the Sharks finish either fourth or fifth the opponent would likely be either the LA Kings or the Blues, who demolished the Sharks in the opening round of last years’ playoffs.
Shark Bytes- The three stars of the game were all from the Phoenix Coyotes: 3) Mike Smith; 2) Shane Doan (who had a pair of assists); and 1) Michael Stone. This was a bittersweet night for the Coyotes who were mathematically eliminated from post season contention because of Detroit’s win earlier. The franchise who’s future seems uncertain plays their final home game Friday night versus Colorado. The Sharks from here will immediately travel to Los Angeles in preparation for their regular season finale Saturday Night versus the Kings.
Next Sharks Game- The Regular Season Finale in Los Angeles versus the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings. The puck drops at the Staples Center Saturday evening at 7:30pm (PT). The Sharks will be looking to overtake the Kings and capture the 4th seeding in the Western Conference thus allowing team teal to have home ice advantage for one round.
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