GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 10: Goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes skates out onto the ice before the NHL game against the San Jose Sharks at Jobing.com Arena on March 10, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
It's likely that one of Phoenix, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Jose will be missing the playoffs this season, and with two straight losses in back to back games, fans of the Sharks are biting their nails.
Luckily for the Sharks, though, they get four games against two teams that are currently ahead of them in the standings with a chance to leap-frog back into the playoff picture in the west. Unfortunately, this isn't a team that's inspiring a whole lot of confidence right now. If it's going to take 94 points to get into the playoffs, San Jose is going to need to win three of their next four to have a shot.
Todd McLellan's team came out like a team on fire in the first, out chancing the Coyotes heavily in the first half of the first frame. However, Mike Smith was up to the task and looked incredible, stopping chance after chance by the Sharks throughout the period.
Smith would maintain his dominance throughout the game, eventually making 38 saves to keep the Sharks to a goose egg on the scoreboard. With Smith employing his usual wizardry against the team in teal (and in tears), Phoenix needed only one goal to get the win.
Radim Vrbata got two.
His first came in the second period during one of only two power plays in the game, and it came early. Antti Niemi stopped a point shot, but three Coyotes overwhelmed the Sharks around the net and Vrbata, all alone, put it past a sprawling Niemi for his 31st of the year.
Vrbata's second came as San Jose pressed hard for the equalizer. Joe Pavelski had a shot blocked high in the zone, and the puck bounced to feed a streaking Ray Whitney, who made a perfect timing pass on a two-on-one breakaway to give Vrbata another shot at Niemi, who couldn't get over fast enough.
The problem for the Sharks, in my eyes, has been their inability to get everyone moving in the right direction at the same time. When Niemi is on his game (like tonight), they can't score. Or Niemi is letting them in like he's a bouncer at Applebee's, and the team is scoring, just not enough. Power Play good, Penalty Kill bad, etc etc.
Tonight that was the case, and it the Sharks want any chance of making the playoffs, they have to get everyone on board right now.