GLENDALE, Ariz. — Mike Smith watched three goals go in the net behind him. Only two counted, setting up an impressive return to Gila River Arena.
Shane Doan scored with 1:31 left, Smith stopped 27 shots in his first home game in nearly four months and the Arizona Coyotes took advantage of two disallowed goals to beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 Thursday night.
“It was hard for them to beat him and have it stick,” Doan said of Smith. “He played great and moves the puck so well back there and he had so much back there for us.”
Smith returned from a 40-game absence due to a core muscle injury with a 44-save shutout Edmonton on Saturday. He was sharp again in his first home game since Nov. 27, making some big saves and getting help from two San Jose goals that were waved off.
Doan had the winner, scoring his 25th goal of the season by squeezing a shot past Martin Jones from a tough angle.
“I thought we got better as the game went along, stuck to our game plan and Doaner was able to get a fluke one there at the end,” Smith said. “But they all count and it’s nice to beat a team like that.”
Tomas Hertl scored and Jones stopped 19 shots for the Sharks, who had won four straight road games.
“It’s a little frustrating when you’re happy you scored and two times they cancel it,” Hertl said. “But it was probably the right call and we should score a couple more goals.”
The Sharks came into the desert following two of their two biggest home wins, beating Washington and Boston in a span of three days.
Trailing the Los Angeles Kings by five points in the Pacific Division entering Thursday, San Jose hit the road, where it has and NHL-best 25 wins.
The Sharks appeared to take the lead in the first period, when Zubrus converted Kevin Connauton‘s own-zone turnover into a goal. But Arizona issued a coach’s challenge and the goal was overturned for the Sharks were offside entering the zone.
Stone scored a minute later on a shot from above the right circle that appeared to hit the stick of San Jose’s Matthew Nieto. The Sharks challenged that one, sending a groan across the arena, but those were replaced by cheers when it was upheld.
Smith nearly got caught too far out of his crease early in the second period when he skated to near the top of the right circle to prevent a breakaway. He couldn’t clear the zone, but the Coyotes covered up for him until he got back into the crease.
The Sharks appeared to score another goal later in the period and again had it overturned upon review. Tierney scored it on a power play, but the officials determined he had made a “distinct kicking motion” to get the puck past Smith and overturned it.
San Jose finally got a goal that counted late in the second period, when Hertl punched in a rebound behind a sprawling Smith — without a review — to tie the game at 1-all.
“It was good to see the guys keep going after having two taken away and get that one,” Sharks centre Joe Pavelski said.
Smith made a huge save with about 5 minutes left in regulation, stopping Joel Ward with his stick then his pad. Klas Dahlbeck helped his goalie out after that, dropping to a knee to block a shot as Smith worked his way back to his feet.
Doan followed with his game-winner from nearly parallel to the goal.
“I don’t know how it went in,” Doan said. “It went off a leg or something.”
NOTES: The game was the first of three between the Coyotes and Sharks over the final 13 games of the season. … Arizona D Oliver Ekman-Larsson missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury. … Alex Tanguay, who had an assist on Stone’s goal, has three goals and four assists in six games since being traded to Arizona from Colorado. … Arizona’s Max Domi and San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic fought early in the second period and Vlasic checked Domi’s face into the boards. Domi was given an additionl cross-checking penalty, setting up the power play that led Tierney’s disallowed goal.