The Sharks overcame a fantastic performance by Mike Smith, downing the Coyotes by a score of 1-0 to conclude their regular season.
Following a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes, the San Jose Sharks can feel good about themselves heading into the postseason, as they await their potential round one opponent between Los Angeles and Anaheim.
The storyline of the game was the goaltending, as Sharks goalie Martin Jones and Coyotes goalie Mike Smith put on a show guarding the net, combining to allow one goal on 52 shots. Jones earned the shutout for team teal, who finished the season with a mark of 46-30-6 (98 points), good for third in the Pacific Division.
Both net minders had impressive stops throughout, keeping it scoreless for 47 minutes before the Sharks broke through.
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Additionally, both teams’ penalty kill units performed at a high level and were forced into heavy duty. The Coyotes finished 0-4 on power play opportunities, while the Sharks went 1-6 on the power play.
That goal, the lone goal of the contest, was scored by Joe Pavelski midway through the third period on a 5-on-3 opportunity via a nice look from who else but Joe Thornton, who tallied his 63rd assist on the campaign, second-best in the league. Brent Burns notched a helper on the goal as well, his 48th of the season. Thornton (82), Pavelski (78) and Burns (75) will finish as the only trio of teammates in the league with 75-plus points each.
Pavelski’s 38th goal of the season, the fifth highest mark in the NHL, was good enough for a Sharks victory as they managed to stave off the feisty ‘Yotes who have remained competitive all season.
Jones finished the season with six shutouts, one behind Corey Crawford for the league’s best. Head coach Peter DeBoer now has a near-impossible decision to make of which goalie – Jones, or midseason acquisition James Reimer – to ride with for the opening game of the playoffs. Reimer may have been the best goalie in the NHL since arriving to San Jose from Toronto, but Jones’ consistent play is a main reason the Sharks are back in the playoffs.
Still, the Sharks must wait and see who their playoff foe will be, as Anaheim has one game left on Sunday against Washington. If the Ducks win, they win the division and the Sharks will face second-place Los Angeles. If Anaheim loses or manages one point, San Jose will face off against the then-second-place Ducks. The division winner will face off against the Nashville Predators to begin the playoff circuit.
Whatever the case may be, team teal can relax Sunday as they have no control over their playoff opponent. San Jose can be happy with how their regular season played out, but realize that their work is not done yet. Either way, whomever they matchup with, it will be a very difficult, physical and yet winnable series.