(Sports Network) - For at least one period, the Phoenix Coyotes put their
recent scoring troubles behind them.
Staying hot on the offensive side of things may be tough on Saturday night as
the Coyotes visit the San Jose Sharks and red-hot goaltender Antti Niemi.
The Coyotes snapped a seven-game slide (0-5-2) on Thursday with a 7-4 win over
the Nashville Predators. Six of Phoenix's goals came in the opening period,
including two by Radim Vrbata.
Rostislav Klesla set a franchise single-period record with four assists in the
opening frame, while Matthew Lombardi, Keith Yandle, Martin Hanzal and David
Moss scored in the first. Hanzal added two assists and Antoine Vermette scored
in the second period.
"We haven't had much luck around the net and pucks seemed to be going in from
all over the place tonight," said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. "It's funny, we
talked before the game about what we had to do to win. I asked a couple of
guys and not one of them said we're going to score six in the first period and
walk away with it. That's the way it's gone lately -- there's crazy games.
Fortunately, we got on top of this one."
Stepping in for an injured Mike Smith for a third straight start, Jason
LaBarbera made 34 saves and the Coyotes were outshot by the Predators 38-29.
Phoenix, though, still registered its highest single-game goal total of the
season and had scored just eight times over its losing streak, a span that
began with three straight shutout losses.
Phoenix is three points behind the St. Louis Blues for eighth place in the
San Jose, meanwhile, is two points ahead of the Blues in seventh and trails
Detroit by just a point in the standings after shutting out the Red Wings 2-0
Niemi made 27 saves to post his second shutout in as many nights after having
made 22 saves in a 4-0 win over Anaheim on Wednesday. He became the first
netminder in Sharks history to post shutouts on consecutive nights.
"I felt good after last night," Niemi said. "I thought I was able to be real
patient and wait for the pucks and then react. I wasn't cheating or expecting
anything else. I was just reading the play."
Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns each scored once for the Sharks, who have won
three straight and four of their last five. The three-game winning streak is
the longest for San Jose since it began the season with seven consecutive
Niemi logged his 22nd career shutout in the second contest of a seven-game
homestand and third this season. The other came in a 1-0 shootout loss to the
visiting Coyotes on Feb. 9.
Niemi stopped 21 shots, but yielded the shootout goals to Mikkel Boedker and
Smith made 33 saves and stopped both skaters he faced in the breakaway
session. His effort helped the Coyotes beat the Sharks for the fifth time in
the past seven meetings but for only the second time in the last 10 played in
The Sports Network