GLENDALE, Ariz. – The San Jose Sharks are on a long winning streak. The Phoenix Coyotes are on the verge of a goalie controversy.
Joe Pavelski scored twice, including the go-ahead goal with 8:37 remaining, and the Sharks rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Coyotes 3-2 Saturday night for their seventh straight win.
“It’s a combination of skill and we’ve got some grit with that skill,” said San Jose coach Todd McLellan, whose club also won seven straight earlier this season. “The players are pulling in the same direction, they believe in what we set out to do in training camp, and they’re getting results so their confidence is growing as we go.”
Pavelski broke a 2-2 tie when he gathered a rebound a foot in front of the crease, pushed the puck to his forehand and scored into the open right side of the net.
“This is one of those games where you have to be a little bit opportunistic,” Pavelski said. “However you get them, it’s always good. Some games you’re going to get them like that. Some games you’re going to get nice ones. But the big thing is you get them.”
Rob Blake also scored for the Sharks, who own the NHL’s best record at 20-3-1.
Derek Morris and Kyle Turris scored for the Coyotes, whose two-game winning streak was snapped.
Mikael Tellqvist made 20 saves in relief of starter and presumptive top goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who allowed goals on the only two shots he faced.
Tellqvist had started the Coyotes’ previous two games, making 75 saves en route to consecutive victories.
“Bryzgalov has just not played at the level we need him to play at,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “He’s better than the way he’s performed. There was no reason to keep him in … two shots, two goals. And the second goal, the guy scored from stands. It’s as simple as that.”
After a furious opening 5 1/2 minutes, in which four goals were scored on eight shots, the game quickly devolved into a sequence of dump-and-chase lobs with few scoring opportunities.
San Jose played the first five-plus minutes of the second period without a shot. Phoenix was even quieter in the third, failing to record its first shot until Keith Yandle’s soft wrister from the outside of the left circle with 4:14 to go.
Tellqvist retreated to the bench for an extra attacker with 36 seconds left and Milan Michalek was whistled for tripping with 22 seconds remaining. But the Coyotes couldn’t get a shot on Evgeni Nabokov, even with the two-man advantage.
“We played desperate at the end but it came too late,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said.
The Coyotes opened a two-goal lead 3:13 into the game.
Morris gave Phoenix a 1-0 edge just 28 seconds in when he took advantage of a screen in front of the crease to beat Nabokov with a drive from the point, his second goal in two games.
Turris made it 2-0 when he flipped a long rebound from the right side of the crease over a prone Nabokov for a power-play goal, his first tally since Oct. 12.
“I feel really confident and I’m getting more confident every game,” Turris said. “We’re getting chances. It’ll come.”
The Sharks answered with two goals in 71 seconds.
Pavelski cut Phoenix’s lead in half when he gained control of a loose puck just outside the crease and beat Bryzgalov at 4:15 on the Sharks’ first shot.
“He was at the net and he got the garbage,” McLellan said.
Blake tied it 2-2 at 5:26 on a wrist shot – San Jose’s second – from the right circle that sailed over Bryzgalov’s shoulder.
“I don’t think either of those goals should have gone in,” Gretzky said.
Bryzgalov, relegated to the bench the past two games, was pulled after Blake’s goal.
“It was a quick turn of events, that’s for sure,” Turris said. “We kind of got caught. We didn’t know what was happening.”
Notes: Nabokov raised his record to 13-2. … San Jose’s last loss in regulation was Nov. 9 in Phoenix. … Bryzgalov had not been pulled in 17 games this season. … The Sharks were without RW Jonathan Cheechoo, who aggravated an upper body injury in Friday’s win in Dallas.