Vermette lifts Coyotes past Sharks, 3-2 in SO

Antoine Vermette got the chance to be the hero in the shootout

thanks to Mike Smith’s play in goal.

Vermette scored in the opening minute and then got the game

winner in the shootout to lift the Phoenix Coyotes to a 3-2 victory

over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

”I just tried to change the angle, slow down and make him move

a little bit,” Vermette said of his game winner. ”I just made a

move and got it between his legs.”

Mikkel Boedker also scored for the Coyotes (10-3-2), who have

points in 11 of their last 12 games.

Smith had 48 saves in regulation and overtime, and then stopped

four of the five shots in the shootout.

”He was big, especially in the power play,” Vermette said.

”He made some key saves and was an important part of our win

tonight.”

Joe Pavelski and Danny Boyle, who missed the previous seven

games with a concussion, scored for the Sharks (10-1-3).

Logan Couture converted the first attempt of the shootout for

San Jose. He earlier thought he had the winning goal with 33

seconds left in regulation. However, it was waved off and replays

clearly showed the puck never crossed the line.

It was just one of many brilliant saves made Smith. Sharks

goalie Antti Niemi shopped 28 shots.

”We had a lot of real good scoring chances,” Sharks captain

Joe Thornton. ”It felt like we were in their zone a lot.”

Radim Vrbata also scored in the shootout for Phoenix.

”Mike Smith was huge in this game,” Coyotes’ coach Dave

Tippett said. ”He made save after save and we managed to get

points in the shootout.”

Phoenix peppered Niemi with seven shots during the 5-minute

overtime, with Niemi coming up big. The Sharks had some chances but

did not get a shot on goal.

The Coyotes scored just 36 seconds into the game. Rob

Klinkhammer picked up a loose puck along the boards near the blue

line and fed Vermette, who beat Niemi to the far post.

”It was good work on the forecheck,” Vermette said. ”We

forced the turnover and found a way. I just shoot it and it found a

hole.”

Pavelski’s goal came just over a minute into the second period,

tying the score at 1. Tommy Wingels won a scrum in the Sharks’ zone

and sent it up the ice to Matthew Nieto, who missed the previous

two games with an injury.

Pavelski took the pass and skated in, looked off Smith and found

an opening to the near side.

”We put ourselves in a hole with the penalties we took,”

Tippett said. ”There were too many turnovers that gave them too

many chances.”

The Sharks took a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal four minutes

later. Pavelski’s shot was blocked and the Coyotes couldn’t clear

it and Thornton kicked it back out to Pavelski, who found Boyle on

the left side. Boyle put it into the upper far corner.

”That definitely felt good,” said Boyle, who slammed his hands

into the glass behind the net as part of his celebration. ”I just

felt a half-second behind everything. I did not feel like my normal

self but I will get better in a hurry.”

Boedker took a pass from Derek Morris midway through the second

period and slipped it along the ice to the far side to tie the

score at 2.

NOTES: Sharks C Joe Thornton recorded his 800th career assist on

Boyle’s goal. … Coyotes C Mike Ribeiro played in his 800th career

game. … Boedker ended a three-game scoreless streak. … Vermette

has scored goals in consecutive games. He did not record a point in

his previous four. … Morris has recorded points in eight of his

last 11 games. … The Coyotes are outscoring their opponents 22-15

in the second period. … Pavelski has scored goals in three

straight. … The Sharks have taken 50 or more shots in both home

games against the Coyotes this year. … Vrbata improved to 32 of

73 on penalty shots.