SAN JOSE – Throughout the Sharks’ struggles towards the end of their hectic run of road games to start the season, one line of thinking was a true evaluation of the team wouldn’t be fair until it returned for a stretch of appearances at SAP Center.
Those aren’t going so well, either.
The Arizona Coyotes skated to a 4-3 shootout win on Saturday night, giving the Sharks two losses to kick off a six-game homestand (0-0-2). San Jose has won just two of its last eight games (2-4-2), and is 6-9-3 since starting the season with nine of a possible 10 points.
Turnovers were the biggest culprit against the Coyotes, including a pair of Arizona goals that came after the Sharks had control of the puck in their defensive zone.
The Sharks trailed 2-0 after the first period, but fought back to tie it in the middle frame.
Their first shorthanded goal of the season cut the Coyotes’ lead in half. Barclay Goodrow forced Oliver Ekman-Larsson into a turnover at the blue line, and raced ahead on a two-on-one with Tommy Wingels. The rookie managed to sneak a pass through Sam Gagner to Wingels’ stick for an easy conversion at 4:11.
The goal was Wingels’ first in 11 games, and came shortly after Mikkel Boedker was staring at an open net but muffed the shot with Arizona on the man advantage, on a play that would have given the Coyotes a commanding 3-0 lead.
Andrew Desjardins’ first goal of the year tied it. Shortly after a failed Sharks power play attempt, Matt Nieto advanced the puck ahead to Tyler Kennedy in the offensive zone. Devan Dubnyk left a juicy rebound that went right to Desjardins’ tape, and he whipped it into the open cage at 17:53.
Arizona regained the lead early in the third. Brent Burns’ bank pass to Tomas Hertl’s backhand was muffled by the sophomore forward, and after Gagner’s shot glanced off of Antti Niemi, Shane Doan poked it off of defenseman Brenden Dillon and across the line just 52 seconds after the faceoff.
The Sharks tied it again, though, on a power play. Burns’ snap shot from just inside the blue line was tipped through Dubnyk by Joe Pavelski at 7:47, making it 3-3.
In the shootout, Antoine Vermette was the only player to score in three rounds. Arizona (9-10-2) improved to 6-1-0 against the Pacific Division.
The Sharks went on the power play just over a minute into overtime after Doan caught Matt Nieto with a high-stick at 1:05. A couple good chances followed, but unforced errors by Logan Couture and Wingels helped Arizona to kill it off and force the shootout.
Niemi did his part to get it to the tiebreaker, too, eating up a Sam Gagner slap shot on a three-on-one rush with 11 seconds to go.
Arizona took a 2-0 first period lead. A Tomas Hertl interference penalty deep in the Sharks offensive zone resulted in the game’s first power play, and Shane Doan’s pass through Brent Burns’ legs to Vermette opened the scoring at 6:08, as Vermette poked it through Antti Niemi.
San Jose has surrendered the first goal in eight of its last 11 games.
About six minutes later, Burns’ pass to Patrick Marleau in the neutral zone was broken up, and the Coyotes transitioned the other way. Boedker waited for Burns to go sliding by, and found David Schlemko alone in the high slot. The Coyotes defenseman went high over Niemi at 12:05.
Defenseman Brenden Dillon, acquired from the Stars on Friday for Jason Demers and a third round draft pick in 2016, made his Sharks debut. He played with Burns, despite not being able to take the morning skate due to his equipment getting lost on a flight from Dallas.
San Jose and Arizona will meet four more times, with the next two meetings in the desert on Jan. 13 and Feb. 13.
The Sharks have scored on power play goal in each of their last three games, after going 0-for-9 in the four games prior. They finished 1-for-4.
Arizona converted on one of its two power plays.
Niemi made his second straight start and finished with 22 saves. He's 7-6-3 on the season.
Sharks-killer Mike Smith had the night off, as Dubnyk turned away 40 of 43 San Jose shots.
Pavelski’s goal was the 200th of his NHL and Sharks career, and he became the third player in franchise history to reach that mark (Marleau, Owen Nolan are the others).
Adam Burish was placed on waivers on Saturday morning. Another NHL team has until Sunday at 9 a.m. to claim him, or he’ll likely be reassigned to AHL Worcester.
In his first game in Dallas, Demers scored a power play goal and registered a team-high 25:32 in ice time in the Stars’ 5-4 win over the Kings.
The Sharks will welcome a three-day break before their next game on Wednesday, Nov. 26 vs. Calgary. They will host Anaheim, Philadelphia and Boston before their next road game in Calgary on Dec. 6.