Sharks vs Coyotes recap:
The San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes played a playoff-type battle that was highlighted by a goaltending duel from two of Russia’s Olympic netminders. The Sharks would win the tilt in the shootout 3-2 (1-0).
Evgeni Nabokov and Ilya Bryzgalov were at the top of their games in a Pacific division showdown. Bryzgalov made 36 saves, many of them were of the highway robbery sort. Nabokov’s 31 stops were topped off by brilliant glove saves on a 4-on-3 penalty kill in overtime and three stops in the shootout.
Devin Setoguchi got the scoring started just under three minutes into the game when he beat Bryzgalov on a backhand after getting stopped twice in tight.
Joe Pavelski scored on a short-handed breakaway when he deked and went backhand. The goal was the Sharks’ sixth shorty of the season, tying them with the Chicago Blackhawks and Atlanta Thrashers for the league lead.
Though the momentum seemed to be swaying back to the Sharks side after the goal, it was quickly thwarted when Phoenix answered with two goals of their own by Petr Prucha and Shane Doan to cap off the second period.
The third period involved both goalies showcasing their skills to keep the game tied and force overtime, and eventually a shootout.
Pavelski was the only one to score in shootout, beating Bryzgalov high on the glove side with his patented wrist shot.
This game legitimized the idea that there are no longer any “easy” games in the Pacific division. There’s no such thing as a doormat team in the Pacific, or really the Western Conference for that matter, making each game even tougher.
When the season started, the Sharks, Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks were suppose to duke it out for the division title. Instead the Ducks and Stars are fighting to get back into the playoff picture and the Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings decided to have their breakout seasons simultaneously.
Each of these teams gave the Sharks fits the past few seasons as well. Now that these games are potential precursors for playoff battles, those watching get a sense for what could be the makings of a great seven-game series.
Players and fans alike would like to forget the first-round loss to the Ducks last season, but that series solidified a rivalry that California hockey fans were already well aware of to the rest of the hockey world.
These constant tests will be much better for a team that’s known for taking games off and perhaps not going into the playoffs with the concentration and urgency needed to step their games up.
Following Nabokov’s naming to Russia’s Olympic squad, Douglas Murray earned a trip of his own to Vancouver representing team Sweden on defense. This will be Murray’s first time making the squad, and he was given a mention and ovation during the game against the Coyotes.
Other Olympics hopefuls include Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle for team Canada, Joe Pavelski for team USA, and Thomas Greiss for team Germany.
Filed Under: San Jose Sharks
About the Author: I am a journalism senior @ San Diego State University. Live, die and breath all sports; hardcore Bay Area fan. Playing guitar and sports is my downtime, usually in some combination with movies (making and watching).