Sunday, April 13, 2014
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The San Jose Sharks had been trying to get Joe Pavelski to 40 goals for three games, looking for him at every chance, sending extra passes his way.
Pavelski got No. 40 out of the way quickly against Phoenix and the Sharks got through a difficult game for a nice postseason tune-up to boot.
Pavelski had two goals to become the fourth player in team history with 40 goals in a season and San Jose closed out the regular season with a 3-2 win over the Coyotes on Saturday night.
"It was nice it comes right away in the game," Pavelski said of goal No. 40. "I could feel everyone try to pass to me, so it's cool, but the win obviously is nice going into the playoffs. Guys feel good about themselves."
The Sharks wrapped up a playoff spot more than three weeks ago and already had their first-round matchup set up, so there wasn't much to gain against the playing-out-the-string Coyotes.
Pavelski knocked out his milestone on a power play 3:43 into the game and added No. 41 midway through to join Owen Nolan, Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau in San Jose's 40-goal club.
The rest of the game was ugly at times, filled with turnovers and mistakes, but the Sharks found a way to grind out a victory before getting a rematch against the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs.
Logan Couture scored, Dan Boyle had a pair of assists and Antti Niemi stopped 30 shots, including Shane Doan on a breakaway late in the third period for San Jose.
"This one was a tough to watch and be part of, the turnovers, the casualness, it was kind of a no-hitter from both teams, which benefited us, obviously, to stay healthy," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I'm glad this one's over and we can focus on playing playoff hockey."
The Coyotes have limped to the end of the season and are ready for it to just end after being knocking out of playoff contention Friday night.
Goalie Mark Visentin gave up two goals in the opening 10 minutes of his NHL debut before settling down, stopping 29 shots.
Phoenix generated some good scoring chances, yet couldn't capitalize on most of them, stretching their losing streak to seven games. Mike Ribeiro and Doan scored for the Coyotes, who have not won since March 27.
"We want to beat everybody and just end this stupid streak," Doan said.
The Sharks locked up their playoff spot on March 24 and already know they'll face the Kings in the opening round, so the finale was little more than a tuneup.
The Coyotes had been hoping this would be the deciding weekend for their postseason hopes.
They never got to it.
Despite Dallas' inability to run away with the West's final playoff spot, Phoenix couldn't make up ground, losing six straight games until the Stars wrapped up their place in the postseason by beating Colorado on Friday night.
With nothing but pride left to play for and Mike Smith sidelined for the ninth straight game, the Coyotes decided to give Visentin his shot at the big time.
The 27th overall pick of the 2010 NHL draft, he went 14-19-5 with a 3.30 goals-against average in 44 games with Portland of the AHL.
His NHL debut did not go well early.
Visentin was caught out of position on a power play early in the first period and Pavelski whipped a wrister past him on a short rush. Pavelski beat him again midway through the period, squeezing a shot from the short side past his stick side.
Visentin settled his nerves after that, making some tough saves in traffic. Couture scored 38 seconds into the third period, but needed a nifty, between-the-legs-redirect after a turnover by Phoenix's Kyle Chipchura to beat him.
"They weren't the greatest of goals, but at the end of the day you just have to put it behind you," Visentin said. "The biggest thing was basically resetting between periods and coming out with a fresh mindset."
Ribeiro scored midway through the second period, taking a pass from Radim Vrbata, waiting until Niemi committed, then flipping a shot that went off the inside of the goalie's glove arm into the net.
Couture's goal put San Jose up 3-1, but Doan cut the lead back to one quickly, beating Niemi on a one-timer from the right faceoff dot 44 seconds later.
That was it for the Coyotes, though, leaving them with one more chance to end their losing streak while sending the Sharks into the playoffs with an extra dose of confidence.
NOTES: The Coyotes close out the regular season against Dallas at home on Sunday. ... Sharks D Scott Hannan did not make the trip to Arizona after taking a hard hit from Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau on Friday night. ... RW Mike Brown also stayed home with his wife due to deliver their baby. ... Ribeiro's goal was his second in 24 games.