Mar. 29, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi (31) and defenseman Dan Boyle (22) watch the puck shot by Phoenix Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata (17) during the third period at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes beat the Sharks 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
The San Jose Sharks, who took first place in the Pacific Division Monday night, are out of a playoff spot Friday morning after Radim Vrbata scored two goals and Mike Smith hampered all the Sharks' chances, putting Phoenix in seventh.
Despite a first period that was all San Jose, the Phoenix Coyotes took the lead and never let up the rest of the way. They ended up taking the game, 2-0, further complicating the Western Conference playoff picture (again) by bumping the Sharks back out of the bubble and placing themselves in seventh place.
Audiences should already be familiar with Mike Smith, who has kept the Coyotes alive in the playoff hunt this whole way. But Radim Vrbata, who leads the league in game-winning goals, got his 11th game-winner against the Sharks, banking in on a loose puck on the power play. Vrbata only padded the score when he put the puck away on a beauty of an odd-man rush in the third period.
San Jose fell behind in momentum, but regained a few good chances in the third. Antti Niemi did what he could, making 31 total saves for the game, but his teammates were unable to convert, due to the alert Phoenix defense and Smith stopping all the Sharks' 37 shots to earn the shutout. It also didn't help San Jose that their third-ranked power play didn't really get a chance to do work -- each team only earned one opportunity with the man advantage.