SAN JOSE -- Nothing lasts forever and Saturday night it was the Sharks' home unbeaten streak that came to an end with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

From Sharks coach Todd McLellan's perspective, the game in which the Sharks outshot Phoenix 50-23 over the first 60 minutes should not have gotten that far.

"We had every opportunity to finish it, to end it," McLellan said. "We had some good looks at the goaltender, but I'm not sure how hungry we were around the blue paint or how much we were in the goaltender's eyes."

The goaltender in this case was Phoenix netminder Mike Smith, who also stopped all but one of the shots he faced in a shootout that was extended to five rounds. While Logan Couture scored for San Jose in the one-on-one competition, Sharks netminder Antti Niemi was beaten by Radim Vrbata and Antoine Vermette.

The Sharks got their regulation goals from Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle, who was playing his first game since being carted off the ice on a stretcher Oct. 15, while the Phoenix tallies came from Vermette and Mikkel Boedker.

The game also reinforced just how tough the competition is -- and how tight things are -- in the Pacific Division. The 10-1-3 Sharks finished the night tied for first place with the Anaheim Ducks at 23 points, one ahead of Phoenix and two ahead of the Vancouver Canucks.

"What are we? Fourteen games in?" McLellan asked. "It's going to be that way all year. I don't see it changing one bit."

The Sharks were 5-0 at the SAP Center this season entering the game, and 11-0 going back to the final home game of the regular season last April and five consecutive playoff victories.


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Even with the goal, Boyle acknowledged he wasn't at his best in his 22:09 ice time during his first game back after being driven into the edge of the boards face-first by St. Louis Blues forward Maxim Lapierre.

"I expect a lot out of myself and I had to be realistic, too," Boyle said. "I knew I wasn't going to be as good as I wanted to be and that's pretty much what I was out there. I definitely didn't feel like my normal self out there."

On his first shift, Boyle's clearing pass was less than crisp and while it did get across his blue line, the Coyotes brought it right back and Vermette scored 36 seconds into the game.

San Jose rediscovered its offensive touch in the second period.

Pavelski tied the game at 1:16, capping a 2-on-1 rush with Matt Nieto by beating Smith high on the short side. The Sharks then took their first lead on Boyle's power-play goal that made it 2-1 at 5:52.

That lasted only a little more than three minutes after Boedker drove down the right side and fired a short wrist shot from a harsh angle that eluded Niemi to tie the game.

"He changed the angle and I got locked on the post," Niemi said of Boedker's shot. "I was trying to be compact. I thought he was going to play with the backhand then he changed the angle and I couldn't get out of the post."

Unlike the first three periods, it was the Coyotes who outshot the Sharks in overtime, 7-0, leading to the shootout.

  • Boyle wasn't the only injured Shark who returned to the lineup as Nieto was back after missing two games with a hand injury that occurred when he blocked a shot by Boston Bruins forward Dennis Seidenberg a week ago.

    Nieto's return to the third line also enabled McLellan to move Marty Havlat up to a line with Couture and Patrick Marleau in Havlat's second game back after pelvic surgery.

  • Defenseman Matt Irwin and forward Mike Brown were healthy scratches for the Sharks.

    For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.

    TUESDAY'S GAME
    Buffalo (2-13-1) at Sharks (10-1-3), 7:30 p.m. CSNCA