Sharks Fall To Coyotes After Clinching Playoff Spot
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS / AP) — Mike Smith stopped 33 shots, and the Phoenix Coyotes prevented San Jose from moving up in the Western Conference standings with a 2-1 win over the Sharks on Wednesday night.
San Jose had a chance to pass Los Angeles for fourth in the West, but the Coyotes played more like the team still in the playoff hunt.
Phoenix beat Thomas Greiss for two goals in the first period and played the tight-checking style that had been so successful the previous three seasons. That left the Sharks tied with the Kings at 57 points.
Michael Stone and Keith Yandle both scored, and Shane Doan had a pair of assists for Phoenix.
Brent Burns scored and Greiss stopped 30 shots in his first start since March 6 for the Sharks, who will close the season against the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings in Los Angeles on Saturday.
San Jose has closed the season strong and finished off its final home game on Tuesday in perfect fashion, scoring two goals 30 seconds apart in the third period to beat Dallas 3-2.
That clinched the Sharks’ ninth straight playoff appearance and gave them a chance to earn home-ice advantage in the first round.
Unlike past seasons, when they made a late-season push to reach the playoffs, the Coyotes faded down the stretch.
Phoenix stumbled with a franchise-record goal-less streak of 245 minutes, 32 seconds — 133 straight shots without a goal — in mid-March to fall out of the top 10 in the Western Conference and never fully recovered.
The Coyotes’ slim playoff chances took a huge hit on Monday, when they were shut out for the eighth time this season in a lackluster 4-0 road loss to Detroit.
They officially had a run of playoff appearances end at three straight seasons with Minnesota’s win over the Kings.
The Coyotes looked more like the playoff team in the first period, generating some good chances and a pair of goals.
Stone scored midway through the period when he was left open as all the other players from both teams crammed near the left boards. Taking a pass from Radim Vrbata, Stone sent a slap shot from the right circle under Greiss’ stick arm for his fifth of the season.
Yandle made it 2-0 with his 10th of the season from nearly the same spot, one-timing a pass from Oliver Ekman-Larsson on a shot that skipped past Greiss after appearing to hit a Sharks player in front.
Burns cut Phoenix’s lead to 2-1 early in the second period, whipping a shot past Smith after a turnover by Ekman-Larsson in the Coyotes’ end. It was San Jose’s first goal against Smith in more than 200 minutes
The Sharks ramped up the pressure in the third period, but Smith turned away 13 shots, including a couple of tough chances in the closing seconds.
NOTES: The Coyotes were without D Derek Morris (lower body) and C Rob Klinkhammer (upper body). … Greiss got the start after Antti Niemi started the previous 24 games. … A group of Ekman-Larsson fans painted their faces like the Swedish flag and wore jerseys that were half Coyotes, half Swedish national team. Ekman-Larsson is from Karlskrona, Sweden. … Phoenix will play its final home game on Friday against Colorado before finishing the season at Anaheim on Saturday.
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