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03/31/2013 2:48 AM EDT
Sharks beat Coyotes 3-2 in shootout
SAN JOSE 3, PHOENIX 2 (OT)

By JOSH DUBOW
AP Sports Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The way the San Jose Sharks have been
playing of late, even a third-period deficit is no reason to get
down.



Marc-Edouard Vlasic celebrated his 26th birthday by scoring the
game-tying goal with 5 minutes left in the third period and
Logan Couture got the only goal of the shootout to lead the
Sharks to their fourth straight win, 3-2 over the Phoenix
Coyotes on Saturday night.



"We're a confident team," Couture said. "We didn't sag on the
bench, stayed up and kept going after them. We knew we were
playing well. ... We're confident we can come back."



A few wins will do that. San Jose had lost seven of nine games
before this current streak, falling into ninth place in the
Western Conference. But four wins over six days has vaulted them
into sixth place.



Joe Pavelski scored for the fourth straight game for the Sharks
and Antti Niemi made 27 saves as San Jose extended its longest
winning streak since opening the season with seven consecutive
wins. Niemi stopped Antoine Vermette in overtime and turned
aside all three shootout attempts.



"I think the confidence is going up. From where it was at the
low point, you can feel it going up," coach Todd McLellan said.
"A lot of good things were said, as soon as we go down. Guys
stuck with the game plan for the most part."



Boyd Gordon and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes, who have
lost eight of their past nine games to plummet in the Western
Conference standings. Jason LaBarbera made 32 saves to lose his
seventh straight decision to San Jose.



"We had the lead with five minutes to play. This has to be a
win," captain Shane Doan said. "Every time you lose it's a lost
opportunity. We're running out of games to get points in. It's
getting more and more desperate - we have to find better ways to
win. We have to get more points than just one."



Couture, who blocked a shot by Vrbata with San Jose short-handed
in the closing seconds of overtime, started the shootout with a
goal when he came in with speed and beat LaBarbera with a
forehand. Niemi ended it with a pad save against Mikkel Boedker
in the third round.



The Coyotes took the lead 33 seconds into the third period when
Vrbata got inside of Tommy Wingels to receive a pass in the slot
from Doan. Niemi stopped Vrbata's first attempt but had no
chance on the rebound that put Phoenix ahead 2-1.



The game stood there until late in the period when Vlasic pushed
in aggressively behind the net with the Sharks desperate for the
tying goal. Pavelski put a shot on net from a bad angle and
Vlasic knocked the rebound past LaBarbera for his second goal of
the season.



"They're hard to play against," Vlasic said. "We needed to throw
pucks on net. I did that twice, Pavs did that and we got a goal.
It was a good comeback for us."



This was the second time in three games that Phoenix allowed a
late goal to tie it and then lost. Minnesota rallied to tie the
Coyotes in the final minute Wednesday before winning in
overtime.



"It's frustrating now," Vrbata said. "We have the lead and we
can't keep it. We can't close it. We couldn't find a third
(goal) to put it away. We could be 3-0 on this road trip and no
one would be surprised. It hard when you only play Western
Conference teams - you are giving them points and losing ground
with each loss."



It was a clean game with neither team wanting to give up a power
play by being too aggressive for a penalty. There was only one
penalty called in regulation, a double minor for high-sticking
against Phoenix's Rob Klinkhammer on Justin Braun in the second
period.



The Coyotes paid for the offensive zone penalty when Pavelski
took a drop pass from Joe Thornton at the blue line and blasted
a shot past LaBarbera early in the second period to match a
career best with a goal in four straight games.



The Sharks generated plenty of scoring chances in the first
period but still trailed 1-0 because LaBarbera came up big in
the net and Gordon capitalized on Phoenix's best opportunity.
After a scramble for the puck near the front of the net, Gordon
got there and lifted a backhand into the net to end Niemi's
scoreless stretch of more than 136 minutes.



NOTES: San Jose D Jason Demers was scratched after taking a hard
hit Thursday against Detroit. ... Brent Burns, who played the
last nine games at forward, moved back to defense and Adam
Burish played wing on a line with Thornton and Marty Havlat. ...
Phoenix D Keith Yandle played in his 400th career game.

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