It was hard to believe the Coyotes were down to two games remaining in the regular season and hadn't clinched a playoff berth. A home-and-home against the tough San Jose Sharks left many Coyotes fans wondering how much of a chance there was that their beloved Yotes would miss out on the postseason party.
They put any of those concerns to rest in their 4-3 win over the rival Sharks at Jobing.com Arena on Friday, wrapping up their regular season home games.
With the Sharks only having lost once in regulation since the middle of March, with a hot goaltender in Antti Niemi, the Coyotes had their work cut out for them. But for what seems like the first time all season, the Coyotes were prepared to handle San Jose.
The Coyotes raced out to an early lead against the Sharks, with only one blemish holding them back as they held a 4-1 lead in the early part of the third period.
Andrew Ebbett, Ray Whitney, and Radim Vrbata scored goals for the Coyotes, while Shane Doan gave Phoenix their first 20-goal scorer of the season with his power play goal that made it 4-1. Prior to the goal, the Coyotes were the only team without a forward to hit the 20-goal mark.
The Sharks lone goal prior to the third came on a shot from the point from defenseman Ian White. But they would make things interesting late in this one.
Midway through the period, Joe Thornton would notch his 1,000th point on a lose puck turned goal, which closed the gap to 4-2. Dany Heatley would score on a powerful windup that flew past Ilya Bryzgalov to cause Jobing.com to collectively worry about a third period collapse.
But the Coyotes would stand strong, with Ilya Bryzgalov turning away 24 shots total, on his way to setting the franchise record for all-time wins by a goaltender.
With the win, Phoenix seals a playoff berth for the second consecutive season. While their official seeding has yet to be determined, they currently hold the five seed in the Western Conference.
Should the standings stay the same by Sunday, the Coyotes would meet a tough opponent in the Nashville Predators, who made life very difficult for the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round last year. The official matchups will be determined on Sunday, when the Coyotes conclude their regular season at San Jose.