Sharks keep pace in playoff chase with shootout win over Coyotes

SAN JOSE–San Jose moved into ninth place in the tightly-bunched Western Conference standings Saturday by topping the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout at sold-out HP Pavilion.

Michal Handzus and Ryane Clowe each scored as the Sharks won the shootout in two rounds, pushing the winners to 86 points with seven games to play in the regular season.

After spending two days atop the Pacific Division, the Los Angeles Kings dropped from third place to 10th place in the conference with a 3-2 loss to Boston Saturday night. Dallas holds down first place in the Pacific Division with 87 points. Phoenix is also at 87, with both San Jose and Los Angeles trailing with 86.

Colorado, also with 86 points but with only five games to play, visits San Jose Monday night. The Sharks play division foes in the final six games, including back-to-backs with Dallas and Los Angeles to complete the season.

The second shot on net fired by the Coyotes in the game resulted in a 1-0 lead for the visitors.

Three Sharks were busy behind the back of the San Jose net when Coyote Alexandre Boldoc, playing in his first NHL game of the season, controlled the puck at the endboards. Boldoc found an advancing Daymond Langkow unmarked in the low slot for the one-timer past goaltender Antti Niemi at 6:31 of the first period.

Phoenix returned the favor with a turnover in the Coyote zone that led to a tying goal.

Winger Lauri Korpikoski was under pressure at the sideboards when he sent a soft pass through the high slot. Shark Joe Thornton cut off the pass and fed Patrick Marleau near the left post for a quick shot past goaltender Mike Smith at the 8:09 mark.

Marleau has 28 goals, two behind team leader Logan Couture.

Thornton was the key to San Jose’s go-ahead goal at 17:28 of the first. The captain worked at the left end of the Phoenix blueline to keep the puck inside, then shoved the puck to Joe Pavelski. Defenseman Brent Burns set up at the high slot, accepted Pavelski’s drop-pass and whipped a shot into the low right corner of the net for his 11th goal of the campaign and a 2-1 San Jose lead.

Thornton’s helper was his 750th career assist, moving him into a tie for 40th all-time with Larry Robinson.

The video judge was called into confirm the tying goal by Phoenix in the closing second of the first period.

The Sharks appeared to fend off a last-second Coyote rush, but Langkow controlled the puck at the left boards and fed Derek Morris for a one-timer past Niemi with 0.5 seconds left on the clock.

The second period was also evenly played (10 shots apiece), although the second period did allow the Coyotes to take a brief lead.

Phoenix needed 49 seconds to move out to a 3-2 lead. Ray Whitney, the former Shark, worked with the puck along the right boards before his pass on the tape of Korpikoski’s stick resulted in a point-blank tap-in under Niemi’s pad.

Daniel Winnik, less than one month into his time with the Sharks, scored his second goal in as many games to earn the hosts a 3-3 tie. Winnik’s low shot from the right circle was aided by Tommy Wingels’ screen at the top of the crease at 5:01 of the third period.

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