Coyotes blank Sharks behing Smith

Mike Smith made 31 saves in his 12th NHL shutout, and the Phoenix Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks 3-0 on Saturday night.

Radim Vrbata, Boyd Gordon and Patrick O’Sullivan all scored for Phoenix. Smith won for the sixth time in seven games and posted his first shutout since April 3, 2011.

Smith handled the Sharks constant pressure in the third period and made 15 saves.

Phoenix won in San Jose for the first time since April 9, 2009, a span of six games. The Sharks fell to 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.

Vrbata put Phoenix ahead 1-0 with 5:39 left in the first period when he took Ray Whitney’s missed shot when it bounced off the endboards and put a shot past goalie Thomas Greiss for his sixth goal of the season.

The Coyotes made it 2-0 with 42 seconds left in the first period when Gordon slipped a shot under Greiss’ right pad.

Since Phoenix hired Dave Tippett as coach for the 2009-10 season, the Coyotes are 73-8-12 in games in which they score first.

O’Sullivan made 3-0 when he stuffed in a shot from the low slot.

Greiss made his first appearance since setting a modern NHL record for the longest relief win – going 62 minutes, 52 seconds against Pittsburgh on Nov. 3.

NOTES: The teams are 49-49-7-6 against each other. … Coming into the game, San Jose LW Ryan Clowe led the Sharks with 53 shots. … Phoenix’s Shane Doan has the most goals (300) of any active player without a hat trick. He has 38 two-goal games. … San Jose F Joe Pavelski is tied with three other players for the most multipoint games in the NHL with eight. … The Sharks sent LW Frazer McLaren on a conditioning assignment to Worcester of the AHL. McLaren is recovering from hip surgery last May. … Phoenix leads the NHL in the fewest penalties per game, averaging 8.5 minutes.