SAN JOSE — Sharks defenseman Brent Burns credited assistant coach Steve Spott as the inspiration for his game-winning goal in the Sharks’ 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
“That’s a ‘Spotter’ special. Gotta throw him a plug,” Burns said. “[Logan Couture] made a great play on the entry. He had good poise with the puck, and brought that guy in, reversed it back, set it up. It was just a great play coming around the top.”
So what, exactly is a ‘Spotter special?’
“It’s a secret,” Burns laughed.
Burns kept his cards close to the vest, and told reporters to ask Spott if it was a play the Sharks drew up headed into the intermission. No matter the inspiration, the play and the ensuing goal ended the game just 19 seconds into overtime, and put the Sharks in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division for the first time this season.
San Jose only ended up in the extra frame because of Mike Smith’s play in Arizona’s net. He stopped 40 of the Sharks’ shots, his second straight game against San Jose with 40 or more saves.
For the second time in three match-ups with Arizona this season, the Coyotes overcame the Sharks’ initial pressure and got on the board first. Max Domi gave Arizona a 1-0 lead in the second period on only their seventh shot of the game. From that moment on, though, San Jose shut the door defensively.
“They’re an opportunistic team,” Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said about the Coyotes. “They kind of take advantage of your miscues, and for us, I think that was a credit to us just sticking with it, even past sixty minutes tonight, to get the two points.”
The win was the Sharks’ fourth on their five-game homestand, and their first against Arizona this year. The Sharks’ run was the culmination of strong play on a six game road trip before they returned home, according to Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer.
“I liked our last two games on the road trip prior to the homestand,” DeBoer said. “In St. Louis, in [Glendale] we played very well. Really, on that trip prior to coming home, the Carolina game was the only one that was a stinker. I like how we’re playing. It’s nice to get rewarded in the standings.”
DeBoer was on top of his game tonight. San Jose controlled play from whistle to whistle, and his in-game adjustments paid immediate dividends. Chris Tierney tied the game on the very first shift that Joonas Donskoi was moved to his line, and Melker Karlsson drew a penalty in the dying moments of regulation on a new line alongside Joel Ward and Logan Couture.
As for the ‘Spotter special?’ There, he was just as clueless as the rest of us.
“You saw it there. I don’t know what it is, but it worked,” DeBoer joked. “I stay out of the power play meetings.”