Phoenix Coyote End Storybook Regular Season With Loss to San Jose Sharks; Next Up: PLAYOFFS, BABY!

The Phoenix Coyotes regular season ended in a way that's almost as improbable as their upcoming playoff bid, which ESPN is calling "the best story in the NHL: They lost in a shootout to the San Jose Sharks.

The Coyotes have the best shootout record in the NHL but couldn't muster the goals necessary to beat San Jose, losing 3-2 Saturday.

The Coyotes gave up the first goal of the game early in the first period off a Devin Setugochi snap-shot that Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov didn't have a chance at saving, thanks to a quick pass from Joe Pavelski.

Coyotes forward Lee Stempniak answered with an unassisted goal early in the second period.

With the score tied at one late in the second period, a Patrick Marleau goal gave the lead back to the Sharks heading into the third period.

Less than two minutes into the third period, the Coyotes did what everyone expected: Tied the game -- setting the groundwork for yet another shootout win for the Yotes.

Matthew Lombardi slipped one past Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to give the Howlers the tie.

After a scoreless remainder of regulation, and an uneventful overtime period, the game was tied at two, and the Coyotes were right where they wanted to be: In a shootout.

Joe Pavelski scored first for the Sharks, and Stempniak failed in his attempt on Nabokov.

Ryan Clowe scored next for the Sharks, and that's when it became apparent that Bryzgalov -- the team's 2010 MVP -- didn't bring his A-game to the contest  

The Coyotes responded with a goal but were still down one going into the final round of the shootout.

Dany Heatley was up next for the Sharks but thankfully missed the net with a hard wrist shot from about 20 feet out, which put the game on the shoulders of Radim Vrbata, who scored -- sending the shootout into extra frames.

A virtual unknown got the call to shoot next for the Sharks -- Logan Couture had the game on his shoulders for San Jose and didn't disappoint.

Couture scored on a well-placed backhand to give the Sharks the lead, putting pressure on the Coyotes' next shooter, captain Shane Doan.

Doan, who just last week ended a 23-game scoreless streak, didn't meet the challenge, though, getting stuffed by Nabokov on a quick backhand from just outside the slot. 

"I didn't expect to shoot with all the talent we have on this team," Couture told reporters after the game. "When they put me out there I was confident I was going to score. I'm glad I did score so it looked like he made the right decision."

The next time the Coyotes hit the ice it will be in the playoffs. The Howlers faceoff against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The game can be seen on Versus. For more info on the Coyotes click here

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