Coyotes fail to keep pace in West playoff race in loss to Sharks

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The Arizona Coyotes failed to keep pace in the Honda West Division playoff race with a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center in San Jose, California, on Wednesday.

Phil Kessel and Johan Larsson scored, and Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves for the Coyotes (21-24-5), who lost their ninth in 11 games.

Evander Kane, Rudolfs Balcers and Kevin Labanc scored in the first period, and Josef Korenar made 28 saves for the Sharks (20-24-5), who swept the two-game set after losing their previous eight games.

The Sharks took a 3-0 lead, just as they did Monday before holding on to win 6-4 when Korenar made 21 saves for his first NHL win.

Kane scored on a tic-tac-toe play following quick passes by Alexander Barabanov and Tomas Hertl for a 1-0 lead 1:12 into the first. Kane’s 20th goal gives him six consecutive seasons with at least 20 and seven in his NHL career.

Balcers skated to a loose puck at the blue line and switched from his forehand to his backhand to score on a short breakaway to make it 2-0 at 10:06.

Labanc, out of the lineup with an upper-body injury on Monday, made it 3-0 at 14:08. Alexander True‘s pass from beyond the goal line deflected off Kuemper’s skate directly to Labanc in front.  

Kessel deflected Nick Schmaltz‘s shot from the right circle to cut it to 3-1 at 15:47, his eighth goal in six games against San Jose this season.

Larsson made it 3-2 at 4:40 of the second when Hertl couldn’t intercept Niklas Hjalmarsson‘s pass and the puck deflected to Larsson in the slot.

The Sharks failed to score during 3:24 of continuous power-play time in the third period that included a two-man advantage for 36 seconds. They are 0-for-23 on the power play in their past nine games.

Hertl scored into an empty net at 19:23 for the 4-2 final.

 

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