GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If the Sharks were looking for definitive answers in the battle for the club's final roster spots, they'll have to wait another day.

Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes in the preseason's second-to-last game offered some promise, some problems and more questions.

"It was a good night for us to evaluate players because it was a tight game, not a lot of space," coach Todd McLellan said. "Early on we established an attacking game, but as the game wore on we got away from that and became a more passive team. We don't have to play that way and we shouldn't play that way."

In the competition to fill injured forward Raffi Torres' role, neither Matt Nieto nor Freddie Hamilton managed a point. General manager Doug Wilson said the plan is to give both players, as well as Tomas Hertl, James Sheppard and Andrew Desjardins, a chance at more ice time before exploring trades or free agents.

Torres' energy and edge may be hard to replace, but Nieto had a big hit, three shots and a strong rush to end the first period. He was also caught deep when Radim Vrbata broke in alone and faked goalie Alex Stalock to his knees before taking the puck around the net and banking a wraparound off Stalock's pad with 38.2 seconds left in the second period.

Hamilton registered a pair of hits, but he made a few mistakes, including failing to get the puck in deep in the first period. His soft chip was intercepted, creating a chance the other way.

Stalock was sharp in his second preseason game, turning aside point-blank chances from David Moss, Vrbata and a partial breakaway by Rob Klinkhammer. Stalock and Harri Sateri are battling for the backup spot.

"He stood tall and made the first save," McLellan said. "Our defense did a pretty good job of clearing the second chances away."

With rosters whittled down, Friday's game looked more like a regular-season game with tight checking and limited scoring chances.

The Sharks' lone goal came off some nice work by Bracken Kearns. He won the battle for the puck down low, then fed the puck around the net to Shepherd. Kearns went to the net and took a return feed from Shepherd before slipping the puck past goalie Thomas Greiss to tie it at 1-1.

Phoenix got the game-winner on a late power-play goal from Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

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saturday's game
Sharks at Anaheim, 7 p.m.