Sharks’ season ends with a win
AP Sports Writer
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Joe Pavelski had two goals to become the fourth player in team history with 40 goals in a season and the San Jose Sharks closed out the regular season with a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.
Pavelski scored his 40th goal on a power play early in the first period and added No. 41 midway through to join Owen Nolan, Jonathan Cheechoo and Patrick Marleau in San Jose’s 40-goal club.
Logan Couture also scored and Dan Boyle had a pair of assists for the Sharks, who will face the Los Angeles Kings in the opening round of the playoffs.
Antti Niemi stopped 30 shots, including Shane Doan on a breakaway late in the third period.
Mike Ribeiro and Doan scored for Phoenix, which lost its seventh straight.
Coyotes goalie Mark Visentin gave up two goals in the opening 10 minutes of his NHL debut before settling down. He stopped 29 shots.
The Sharks locked up their playoff spot on March 24 and already know they’ll face the Kings in the opening round, so the finale was little more than a tuneup.
The Coyotes had been hoping this would be the deciding weekend for their postseason hopes.
They never got to it.
Despite Dallas’ inability to run away with the West’s final playoff spot, Phoenix couldn’t make up ground, losing six straight games until the Stars wrapped up their place in the postseason by beating Colorado on Friday night.
With nothing but pride left to play for and Mike Smith sidelined for the ninth straight game, the Coyotes decided to give Visentin his shot at the big time.
The 27th overall pick of the 2010 NHL draft, he went 14-19-5 with a 3.30 goals-against average in 44 games with Portland of the AHL.
The Coyotes had a hard time getting anything past Niemi for the first period and a half, sending one good shot after another that was turned away.
Ribeiro finally broke through midway through the second period, taking a pass from Radim Vrbata, waiting until Niemi committed, then flipping a shot that went off the inside of the goalie’s glove arm into the net.
Couture scored 38 seconds into the third period, putting the Sharks up 3-1 with a nifty between-the-legs redirect on a pass after a turnover by Phoenix’s Kyle Chipchura.
Doan cut the lead back to one quickly, beating Niemi on a one-timer from the right faceoff dot 44 seconds later.
NOTES: The Coyotes close out the regular season against Dallas at home on Sunday. … Sharks D Scott Hannan did not make the trip to Arizona after taking a hard hit from Colorado’s Patrick Bordeleau on Friday night. … RW Mike Brown also stayed home with his wife due to deliver their baby. … Ribeiro’s goal was his second in 24 games.