Five days ago, the San Jose Sharks secured their fourth straight Pacific Division title with a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. On Saturday, they didn't let up and fought their way to clinching the second seed in the Western Conference with a 3-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, which concluded their regular season. That puts the Sharks at 48-25-9 for the regular season, not a bad outing for a team that was at one point on a six-game losing streak and had fans doubting their chances at the playoffs for the first time in years.
Antti Niemi was the star of a game that featured high-level goalie play on both sides, as he stopped 35-of-36 shots, with some fantastic saves in there. Ilya Bryzgalov made 34 saves for the Coyotes, including a beautiful save of the year candidate, but it wasn't enough to put the Coyotes ahead. Logan Couture, Ian White and Joe Pavelski accounted for San Jose's offensive output, while Lauri Korpikoski had the only score for Phoenix.
Their first round opponents? Keep your eye on Sunday's matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. San Jose could end up playing against the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, or even the Phoenix Coyotes again, depending on the final score of the aforementioned game. Here's a quick breakdown ...
- Chicago wins in regulation or overtime, Sharks play Phoenix
- Jason Plank over at Fear The Fin also noted that if Chicago wins in a shootout, the Sharks could end up facing the Nashville Predators.
- Chicago loses in regulation, Sharks play Los Angeles
- Chicago loses in extra time, Sharks play Chicago
So, be up early to watch the game and see who San Jose gets, the game starts at 9:30 a.m. PT and will be on NBC.