When the puck dropped for the San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes last night, there was a lot on the line. The Sharks had a chance to gain some ground on the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division race and stay ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights, while the Coyotes had a chance to inch closer to that second wild card spot in the West. In the end, it the Sharks that got the job done.
Despite losing 3-2 in overtime, give Arizona credit, because they just kept coming. Looking at Corsi courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, you can see the Coyotes out-possessed the Sharks in even-strength play from the third period on, after they got a tying goal early in the period.
Part of the reason the Sharks held on to win was the play of Martin Jones. He returned from the break and made 31 saves in 33 shots. That was good enough for a .939 save percentage.
Looking at the heat map, you can see Jones faced a lot of shots up close and he stopped most of them.
One of the things to watch for last night was if both teams would come out rested or rusty after a long layoff. Turns out there was a little bit of both. Things started out slow, but as they reached the end of the first period, both teams were skating like they had just had 10 days to rest their legs.
The first period saw a trio of power plays. The Coyotes had the first opportunity on the man-advantage after Brenden Dillon was called for a slash at the 3:53 mark. Jones was tested a few times, including a point blank shot by Nick Cousins, but Jones stood tall and kept the game scoreless.
The Sharks built off the momentum from the kill and drew a power play of their own a few minutes later. Sadly, the Coyotes returned the favor and killed the penalty.
The power plays seemed to get everyone going. The pace picked up after the second kill. Evander Kane was one of the more noticeable Sharks on the ice, with four shots on goal in the first period, including one that forced Darcy Kuemper to do some acrobatics to make the save.
The period ended with a very late penalty by the Coyotes Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He was called for interference with just over four seconds remaining in the first. The Sharks didn’t score in the time remaining, so they carried over almost a full two minutes to the second period.
In the second period, even the fresh ice couldn’t help the Sharks. They maintained zone time on the power play, but couldn’t manage to beat Kuemper. Following the kill, the Coyotes pushed right back and had a few scoring chances of their own.
Things stayed scoreless until the 9:56 mark of the second period, when Tim Heed received the puck behind the Sharks net from Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Heed was pressured by a Coyotes’ player and tossed the puck to the front of the net. That’s where Conor Garland gobbled the puck up and put it past Jones before any of the Sharks had time to react. Just like that, it was 1-0 Coyotes.
Garland gets it done.— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 3, 2019
1-0 Yotes. pic.twitter.com/zRsdVN0D9t
The Coyotes did not have the lead for long. At the 12:09 mark, Marcus Sorensen picked the puck up behind the Coyotes net and brought it up the boards. He passed it off to Brent Burns, who wasted no time sending the puck toward the net. Joe Thornton tried to tip it in, but Kuemper made the save. It rebounded to Kevin Labanc on the other side of the net, who tapped it in for the game tying goal.
As tends to happen with the Sharks lately, they score in bunches. Less than a minute later, Logan Couture poke checked the puck off a Coyote’s stick in the neutral zone. Couture tipped it forward to Timo Meier who skated in alone on Kuemper. Once again, Kuemper made the initial save but it was the rebound that hurt him. Joe Pavelski caught up to the puck and then beat Kuemper to make it 2-1 Sharks.
Deep breath, because it wasn't over yet. Arena announcer Danny Miller was still telling the crowd about who contributed to the Sharks’ latest goal when Richard Panik skated into the Sharks’ zone and beat Justin Braun to the puck. Panik went straight to the net, ran into Jones ,and the puck went in. The ref was right there to signal no goal. Ultimately, it went to Toronto, who determined it was a good goal.
According to referee Kyle Rehman, “After review, the puck enters the net in a legal fashion. The net was on in the moorings, therefore we have a goal.”
Head Coach Pete DeBoer wasn’t having it. He immediately challenged the play for goaltender interference, which meant it was back on the phone for Rehman. After consulting with Toronto, the goal was overturned. Still 2-1 Sharks.
The Coyotes' official Twitter account probably sums up the series better than me.
Panik scored.— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 3, 2019
It was called off.
It was called a goal.
It was challenged and disallowed.
That was a lot of emotions.
The Coyotes went right back to work after the disappointing call and Heed once again found himself headed to the penalty box, this time for holding Clayton Keller. There were a few scares, but San Jose’s penalty kill bailed Heed out and he left the box with the score still 2-1 in favor of the Sharks.
Fresh off his first appearance at the All-Star game, Keller was really moving. At the 18:47 mark of the second period, he drew another penalty. This time it was Braun headed to the box for holding.
The Sharks killed off part of the penalty and headed to the locker room still up 2-1.
In the third, the Sharks’ parade to the box continued. Just as they killed off the Braun penalty, Burns decided he needed a breather. He was called for high-sticking and Arizona had another shot to tie it. And just to make sure the Coyotes had the best opportunity possible, Evander Kane jumped on the ice too early and the Sharks were called for too many men.
San Jose now needed to kill off 40 seconds of 5-on-3 time. Luckily for San Jose, the penalty killers were up to the task. Once his penalty expired, Burns jumped out of the box and had a breakaway chance. He was stopped by Kuemper, but the team had a few more shorthanded chances before the second penalty expired.
Trouble is, if you give Arizona too many chances, it’s going to hurt you eventually. Despite missing out on a chance to tie it up on the power play, the Coyotes kept coming. They finally broke through at 7:10, when Josh Archibald beat Jones to make it 2-2.
With the game tied, the teams started to trade chances.
A little over a minute later, Archibald was a post away from putting the Coyotes in the lead.
Then at 11:23, Jones had the save of the night. He gloved down a shot by Cousins to keep the score 2-2.
Fast forward to the final minutes of the game, where both teams had great scoring chances, but couldn’t beat the other’s goaltender.
In overtime, the teams were tentative at first and then halfway through things started heating up. A couple of broken plays in the neutral zone led to puck possession by the Sharks. The initial shot didn’t make it to the net, but Tomas Hertl managed to pick up the puck, look over his shoulder and pass it back to Burns who was deep in the Coyotes’ zone. Burns immediately turned and drove the net. Up close, he used some quick hands to out-maneuver Kuemper and take home the 3-2 win in overtime.
A couple other notes. This was Vlasic’s first game back from injury. He was a minus-1 last night, but played 28 shifts and 23:59 in on-ice time. The only defenseman who was on the ice more last night was Burns.
And, hey Dilly, Dilly, it was career game number 500 for 29-year-old Brenden Dillon.
So what does this all mean for the playoff race? The win puts the Sharks at 30 wins for the season. That’s good enough for 67 points, four behind the Calgary Flames who lost to the Washington Capitals 4-3 last night. The Sharks are also five points ahead of Vegas, who lost 3-1 to the Florida Panthers last night.
As for the Coyotes, they’re still on the outside looking in. They trail the Vancouver Canucks by three points. The Canucks took over the second spot in the wild card race last night with a decisive 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.