July 03, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Mike Smith figured he would be tested by the big and physical San Jose Sharks. It was a challenge the Phoenix Coyotes goalie willingly accepted and mastered.

Smith made 33 saves through overtime and then turned aside two more shots in the shootout to carry the Coyotes to a 1-0 win over the Sharks on Saturday.

``It was a good one for me because they throw a lot of stuff at your feet from all different angles, and you have to be sharp all over the ice,'' Smith said. ``It was a good one for me to get under my belt.

``We knew they would come at us pretty hard, and I was fortunate enough to come out on top.''

The game's only offense was provided by Phoenix's Mikkel Boedker and Radim Vrbata, who both netted shootout goals against Antti Niemi.

``I thought I would do something else, even when I was in the slot,'' Vrbata said. ``Then the instinct kicked in and I did what I usually do.''

Smith, who recorded his second shutout of the season, made several acrobatic saves, including one in the shootout. Smith has 21 career NHL shutouts.

``He was excellent. He made some big saves at the right time,'' Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. ``He made some tough saves on shots that came through traffic. When you don't give up any goals you give your team a chance to win.''

Niemi was nearly perfect, too, stopping 21 shots before the shootout to earn his first shutout of the season and 20th in the NHL.

``We still need to bear down around the net, but there are things we can build upon heading out on the road,'' Sharks center Joe Thornton said. ``We feel comfortable playing this type of game, but unfortunately we lost in a shootout.''

Smith improved to 14-19 in shootouts, and Niemi fell to 19-13.

San Jose, which has gone to a shootout in four of six games, dropped its second straight tiebreaker. The Coyotes are 1-1 in shootouts, both coming on the road.

Both teams hadn't won in their previous three games.

The Sharks entered with one power-play goal in their previous 21 opportunities, and went 0-for-4. Phoenix came with four goals in 23 chances before an 0-for-3 performance.

San Jose has turned around its penalty-killing. After allowing a power-play goal in each of their first three games, the Sharks have killed 34 straight short-handed situations.

``I knew our penalty kill has been good but I don't worry about the streak,'' Niemi said. ``Just stopping shots.''

The last time these teams met, there was plenty of offense. The Sharks scored three straight goals in a 5-3 win, and Thornton set a team record for the most points (9) in the first three games of a season (1 goal, 8 assists). Patrick Marleau also became the first player in 20 years to open a season with three straight multiple-goal games.

Smith, who shut out the Sharks three times last season, improved to 6-3-1 in his career against them.

Notes: Coyotes C Martin Hanzal, who left the game for precautionary reasons, had a four-game point streak snapped. ... Coyotes C Boyd Gordon played in his 450th NHL game. ... The Sharks activated D Brent Burns, who played in his first game of the season. D Matt Irwin was assigned to Worchester of the AHL to make room. ... Tippett coached in his 750th game. ... Sharks LW Ryan Clowe hasn't scored a goal this season.

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