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Phoenix goalie hadn't won in NHL since March 2000

1/21/2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- Zac Bierk's long wait for an NHL victory ended
after nearly two years.

Bierk made 26 saves, and Daniel Briere scored twice to lead the
Phoenix Coyotes over the San Jose Sharks 3-1 Monday night.

Bierk, who started the season with Springfield of the AHL, is
1-3-1 in six appearances for Phoenix. Bierk has given up seven
goals on the season but his last NHL victory was March 30, 2000
while with Tampa Bay.

''When was that, in the '80s?'' Bierk said. ''Since I've been up
here, I haven't been doubting myself. I've been in three different
leagues since my last win. To finally get up here and get that
proverbial monkey off my back is pretty good.''

Phoenix coach Bob Francis also was relieved.

''I know the guys are feeling extremely happy for Zac,'' Francis
said. ''Every game he's played, he's given us an opportunity to
win. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to score for him, so it
was long overdue for Zac.''

Jeff Taffe also scored for Phoenix, which snapped a six-game
winless streak (0-4-1-1). Owen Nolan scored for San Jose, 1-5-2-1
in January.

''We had a number of scoring chances and territorial advantage
and pressing like heck, and Zac Bierk made a lot of saves and then
we didn't shoot smart a few times, too,'' San Jose coach Ron Wilson
said. ''We're pressing and it shows. I'm a little disappointed we
couldn't fire up a little more.''

Sharks captain Owen Nolan said the team just needs to keep
working.

''It's not for a lack of caring,'' Nolan said. ''We have to rely
on each other as a team and each man do his job and depend on each other
and get the job done.''

Briere gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead 1:27 into the game. Mike Johnson
fired a shot from the top of the right circle. Evgeni Nabokov made
the save but gave up the rebound to Briere, who was camped just
left of the crease.

''All year, it seems we are struggling with our start and most
of the time when we get off to an early start, we play a good
game,'' Briere said. ''It gave us momentum.''

Phoenix went up 2-0 at 8:53 of the first period on Taffe's goal.
Branko Radivojevic centered a pass from behind the net to Taffe,
who was at the top of the crease.

Nolan made it 2-1 at 11:42 of the first when he shot the puck
between the legs of Bierk after driving to the net.

Briere scored his second goal 1:05 into the third period off
another Johnson assist. Johnson bounced the puck off the boards
behind the net to Briere, just right of the net.

The victory moved Phoenix out of last place in the Pacific
Division and dropped the Sharks into the cellar.

Game notes
The Coyotes scored five goals in their previous six games.
... San Jose is 9-4 in its past 13 games against Phoenix and
25-25-5-2 lifetime against the franchise. ... Coyotes left wing Brad May
assisted on Taffe's goal for his first point this season. He missed
the first 44 games following shoulder surgery.