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SAN JOSE, Calif. – Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski scored in the opening 5 minutes and the San Jose Sharks held on for their fourth win in five games, 3-1 over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night.
Matt Nieto added an insurance goal late for the Sharks, who moved within three points of Los Angeles and Winnipeg in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Kings and Jets each have one game in hand over San Jose.
Antti Niemi made 20 saves in his return from an illness that forced him to miss the past two games.
Mark Arcobello scored for the Coyotes, who have lost 23 of 27 games and have not won in regulation since Feb. 3 in Columbus. Louis Domingue made 34 saves.
Arizona remained two points ahead of Buffalo, which has the worst record in the league and currently the best chance to win the draft lottery.
The first half of a home-and-home series between a team fighting for a playoff spot against one long eliminated got off to a predictable start with San Jose scoring twice quickly and outshooting Arizona 16-3 in the first period.
Couture got the scoring started just 58 seconds into the game when he beat Domingue with a shot to the glove side from the top of the circle.
The Sharks added to the lead just after a penalty to B.J. Crombeen expired when Patrick Marleau set up Pavelski for a one-timer from in close for his 37th goal of the season. It was Pavelski's sixth goal in four games this season against Arizona.
Things were so bad for Arizona that even what seemed like a goal was wiped away when David Moss put his glove on a puck that was about to trickle over the goal line, wiping out what should have been a goal.
The Coyotes managed to get on the board early in the second when Arcobello's centering pass deflected off defenseman Brent Burns' stick and in the net.
Arizona came close to getting the equalizer late in the second but Sam Gagner hit the post on one chance and Niemi just managed to get his glove on a deflected puck that was floating toward the empty net.
Nieto knocked in the rebound of a Chris Tierney shot late in the third to give San Jose breathing room.
NOTES: San Jose C Joe Thornton has gone seven straight games without a point, his longest drought since an eight-gamer early in the 1998-99 season. ... The Sharks had been outscored 5-0 in the first period this season against Arizona before getting the two goals Friday. ... San Jose F Mike Brown returned to the lineup for the first time since breaking his leg Dec. 9. ... Karl Stollery also made his San Jose debut in place of injured D Scott Hannan. ... Hannan was the team's nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.