GLENDALE, Az. – The result wasn’t what they were looking for, but the Sharks took some solace in erasing a two-goal third period deficit against Arizona in a 3-2 overtime defeat to the Coyotes on Saturday night at Gila River Arena.
They never got discouraged, trailing 2-0 after two frames despite throwing a ton of rubber on goalie Mike Smith and controlling play for lengthy stretches. Goals by Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels in the third forced overtime before Martin Hanzal’s redirection won it for the home team in extra time.
“I thought we played well. I thought we carried the play for most of the night,” Joe Thornton said. “It’s nice to get one, but I feel like we probably deserved two tonight.”
Pete DeBoer said: “We wanted two points tonight, and thought we played hard and maybe deserved them, but we didn’t get them.”
The Sharks deserve some credit for the way they played and the energy they showed, despite being on the road for the past 13 days. On the other hand, the Coyotes entered with the worst record in the NHL, while San Jose is supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender. Two of Arizona's six wins have come against the Sharks.
In the first period, San Jose had a 17-4 shot advantage yet trailed 1-0 on Tobias Rieder’s goal. Paul Martin snuck in a little too far in the offensive zone, resulting in a two-on-one the other way that Rieder finished off on a pass through the seam by Jordan Martinook.
“We played really well [in the first period],” Martin said.
Smith made some of his best stops in the second, but the Sharks stayed with it and came out flying again in the third, registering another 18 shots on goal. They finished with a season-high 45.
Finally, they were rewarded for their work in the third. A Joe Pavelski redirection was, not surprisingly, one of the two, while the tying goal was another deflection, when Tommy Wingels apparently got a piece of a Matt Nieto shot from the high slot.
“We brought a lot of energy, I thought,” said Wingels, who has three goals in his last five games. “We dictated the pace of play for the majority of the game, yet you find yourself down 2-0. It was a good battle back in the third there to tie up the game.”
Goals remain hard to come by for the Sharks, who have just 18 in their past nine games (3-5-1). Whether they are playing fairly well, like they did against Arizona, or laying an egg like last Tuesday in Carolina in a 1-0 defeat, they just aren’t getting consistent results.
They remain the only team that hasn’t scored more than four goals in a single game, and have reached four goals just twice in their last 15 – both of which included an empty-netter.
“We’re still looking for another goal,” Pavelski said. “We just [need to] stay with it right now. You don’t shy away, you keep trying to get on the inside, and it’s going to come. It’s going to break.”
Three players that have struggled to get results all season comprised the Sharks’ second line on Saturday. Logan Couture, Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi combined for 15 shots, yet none of them beat Smith. Ward, in particular, had several good looks. That was the only line DeBoer didn’t tinker with in the third period, as the coach was again forced to shuffle the deck in search of offense.
Perhaps a return home will spark something. San Jose has played 12 of 18 on the road to start the season, the most in the NHL to this point, but will now enjoy five straight at SAP Center and eight of their next 10.
“It’s always nice when you get off a road trip and they’re behind you and you can look forward to a little bit of time at home,” Pavelski said.
Martin said: “It’s [been] a long trip. We’ll get back at it.”