Last season's Sharks campaign was a painful
one, wrought with tough lessons that came in the form of losses. For whatever
the reason, that wasn't the case when they played the Arizona Coyotes. San Jose
swept the season series with the Coyotes in the 3-game series. They put enough
pucks in Arizona's goal to extend that streak, but a pair of coach's challenges
wiped away 2 San Jose goals, allowing the Coyotes to take a 1-0 decision at
Mullett Arena in Tempe.
The Sharks can look at a few areas to improve,
but energy was the likely culprit in this one. The Sharks didn't have the same
jump that they demonstrated in their 2-1 win over Winnipeg on Tuesday or the
road trip that preceded that win.
Penalties also played a role in the
contest. San Jose had to kill 4 penalties throughout the evening, without
enjoying the benefits of the man advantage themselves.
would crack the scoring column in the opening 20 minutes. San Jose out-shot
Arizona 9-6 in the frame, but the Coyotes had better scoring chances. Sharks
goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen only had to deal with the 6 challenges, but half of
them were off shots inside 15 feet. Kahkonen proficient glove work kept those
chances out of his own net.
The Sharks would lose the puck possession
battle due to an anemic 6-for-17 conversion rate off faceoffs in the period.
The Sharks impeded their own progress in the middle period with a pair
of penalties. They would kill both Coyote power play chances, but it still took
significant time away from offensive chances. A delay of game penalty to
Kahkonen, who lobbed the puck over the glass, almost paid off for San Jose.
Anthony Duclair served Kahkonen's penalty and was gifted a breakaway
chance right after stepping out of the box. He would race in on Coyotes
netminder Connor Ingram, but the puck rolled off his stick just as he was
skating in on the crease.
Matias Maccelli finally broke the scoreless
tie with his 6th goal of the season at 14:45. JJ Moser fired a shot in on goal
from the top of the left circle that hit Nick Bjugstad's skate in front of the
left post and kicked over to the right side. Maccelli was in the right spot at
the right time, pumping home the puck as Kahkonen had slid over to cover the
left side of the net to defend Moser's attempt.
It was the only
blemish on Kahkonen's line all night, but it was big enough to matter. His 23
saves fell one save short.
Nikita Okhotiuk impeded any thoughts of a
comeback by taking an interference penalty at the 4:58 mark of the 3rd period.
They would kill the infraction, but again it was critical time wasted.
The Sharks appeared to tie the game at the 7:40
mark, after William Eklund pumped home a rebound chance from the slot. Arizona
head coach André Tourigny successfully challenged that Luke Kunin
interfered with Ingram as he cut through the crease just before Eklund released
Givani Smith took his 2nd penalty of the night at 13:12 in
attempt to prevent a scoring chance after Kevin Labanc turned the puck over in
the neutral zone. The sloppy puck handling just killed the flow of things for
San Jose all night.
Mikael Granlund appeared to tie the game once
again with 3:50 to play, but once again Arizona successfully challenged the
goal. This time Anthony Duclair was caught in the Arizona zone when the Sharks
entered the zone with the puck. It was a cruel outcome for a team that has
become astute at scoring dramatic 3rd period goals.
The Sharks pulled
Kahkonen with 3 minutes to play and had chances to get the equalizer, but
Ingram would deny them. Filip Zadina fired one last chance as time was about to
expire, but the shot rang off the right post. Game
* The Sharks moved Nico Sturm to the injured reserve with an
undisclosed injury. Sturm only saw 8:44 of ice time in San Jose's 201 win over
Winnipeg, suffering the injury in the 2nd period of that game. Sturm joins
Logan Couture, Oskar Lindblom, Matt Benning, Ryan Carpenter, and Ty Emberson on
the injured reserve.
* San Jose also announced a trade right before
pre-game warms ups. San Jose acquired centerman Jack Studnicka from the
Vancouver Canucks in exchange for defenseman Nick Cicek and a 2024 6th round
draft selection. Studnicka has 90 games of NHL experience.
still not clear where the Coyotes will eventually call home. They continue to
play at Mullett Arena, which is a college hockey facility based in Tempe. The
current locale is at least near downtown Phoenix, which is a far cry from their
old home in Glendale, which is a 30 minute drive from the downtown area. Add 20
minutes to that drive during the evening commute.
* San Jose suffered
in the faceoff circle with Nico Sturm out of the lineup. The Sharks only won 21
of 56 draws for a 38% win rate. That and their penalties really stymied the
Sharks from establishing much flow in the game.
* The lone highlight
of the game for San Jose may have been the penalty kill, which extinguished all
4 chances during the game. San Jose did however fail to generate any power play
chances for themselves.