Coyotes visit Sharks hoping to solve red-hot Niemi
(Sports Network) - For at least one period, the Phoenix Coyotes put their recent scoring troubles behind them.
Staying hot on the offensive side of things may be tough on Saturday night as the Coyotes visit the San Jose Sharks and red-hot goaltender Antti Niemi.
The Coyotes snapped a seven-game slide (0-5-2) on Thursday with a 7-4 win over the Nashville Predators. Six of Phoenix's goals came in the opening period, including two by Radim Vrbata.
Rostislav Klesla set a franchise single-period record with four assists in the opening frame, while Matthew Lombardi, Keith Yandle, Martin Hanzal and David Moss scored in the first. Hanzal added two assists and Antoine Vermette scored in the second period.
"We haven't had much luck around the net and pucks seemed to be going in from all over the place tonight," said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. "It's funny, we talked before the game about what we had to do to win. I asked a couple of guys and not one of them said we're going to score six in the first period and walk away with it. That's the way it's gone lately -- there's crazy games. Fortunately, we got on top of this one."
Stepping in for an injured Mike Smith for a third straight start, Jason LaBarbera made 34 saves and the Coyotes were outshot by the Predators 38-29.
Phoenix, though, still registered its highest single-game goal total of the season and had scored just eight times over its losing streak, a span that began with three straight shutout losses.
Phoenix is three points behind the St. Louis Blues for eighth place in the Western Conference.
San Jose, meanwhile, is two points ahead of the Blues in seventh and trails Detroit by just a point in the standings after shutting out the Red Wings 2-0 on Thursday.
Niemi made 27 saves to post his second shutout in as many nights after having made 22 saves in a 4-0 win over Anaheim on Wednesday. He became the first netminder in Sharks history to post shutouts on consecutive nights.
"I felt good after last night," Niemi said. "I thought I was able to be real patient and wait for the pucks and then react. I wasn't cheating or expecting anything else. I was just reading the play."
Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns each scored once for the Sharks, who have won three straight and four of their last five. The three-game winning streak is the longest for San Jose since it began the season with seven consecutive wins.
Niemi logged his 22nd career shutout in the second contest of a seven-game homestand and third this season. The other came in a 1-0 shootout loss to the visiting Coyotes on Feb. 9.
Niemi stopped 21 shots, but yielded the shootout goals to Mikkel Boedker and Vrbata.
Smith made 33 saves and stopped both skaters he faced in the breakaway session. His effort helped the Coyotes beat the Sharks for the fifth time in the past seven meetings but for only the second time in the last 10 played in San Jose.
03/30 10:43:37 ET