The first time around it wasn’t enough, so Phoenix Coyotes netminder Mike Smith did one better Saturday night in San Jose.
Smith, who made 47 saves in the Coyotes’ 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks back on Oct. 5, was arguably the best player on the ice at HP Pavilion Arena, stopping almost anything that moved from getting inside net.
While the Sharks did manage to get two pucks — Joe Paveleski on a two-on-one opportunity and Dan Boyle above the right shoulder on the power play — past Smith in the second period, it was the Coyotes netminder who had the last laugh.
The 31-year-old set a new season-high with 48 saves, and Antoine Vermette closed out the contest with a slowly-developing backhander by San Jose netminder Antii Niemi, as the Coyotes took down the Sharks 3-2 in a shootout.
With the win, Dave Tippett became the winningest coach in franchise history with 166 wins. The record was previously held by Bobby Francis.
San Jose came in having scored a goal in the first minute in five of their 13 previous games, but it was Phoenix who started fast.
The Coyotes got on the scoreboard 36 seconds into the contest after a turnover around the blue line turned into a perfect pass from Rob Klinkhammer to Vermette, who beat Niemi with a slap shot glove side.
Although Tippett’s squad would give up the next two goals, their response — especially in a hostile environment — was impressive.
About 8:45 into the second period, Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl received a beautiful cross ice feed and was headed in on goal. Before he could muster much of an offensive chance, Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle executed a perfect back check.
The dislodged puck was eventually picked up by Mikkel Boedker, who went end-to-end before putting a wrister by Niemi’s stick side.
Center Martin Hanzal returned from his two-game suspension Saturday night, however he definitely showed signs of rust. Despite playing over 25 minutes, Hanzal had as many shots (1) as he did penalties (1). He finished with a plus/minus of -1.
Hanzal also leads the team with 21 penalty minutes on the season.
HE SAID IT:
“He was really solid. They had some great chances on him, especially on the power play, but he stayed strong. He looked real comfortable and big back there. ” — Coyotes center Antoine Vermette on Mike Smith
– Smith’s 48 saves are the most he’s had since he notched 54 in a shootout of the Columbus Blue Jackets back on April 3, 2012.
– Ironically, Phoenix’s last win at San Jose also came in a shootout victory back on Feb. 8, 2013.
– The Coyotes came into the night as the NHL leaders in third period goals with 21, however they were blanked in the final frame for the first time since a 2-1 win in Philadelphia on Oct. 11.
– Phoenix won back-to-back games in a shootout for the first time since March 2-4, 2013 against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Coyotes return home looking to extend their win streak to five games. They’ll take on the Vancouver Canucks (10-5-1) on Tuesday night at Jobing.com Arena. Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MST and can be heard on KVMP 860.