Final OT

Series (Game 5 of 5)

Arizona leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 30th
Game 2: Tuesday, December 3rd
Game 3: Monday, January 20th
Game 4: Saturday, March 8th
Game 5: Sunday, April 6th

Coyotes 3

(31-35-5, 78 pts)

Sharks 3

(28-37-8, 73 pts)

4:00 PM ET, April 6, 2003

SAP Center, San Jose, California

1 2 3 OT T
ARI 3 0 0 03
SJ 1 0 2 03

N. Dimitrakos (Sharks - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

A. McCauley (Sharks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

M. Sturm (Sharks - LW): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Sharks' future takes center stage in finale

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Niko Dimitrakos wasn't thinking about the San Jose Sharks' lost season. The talented rookie was thinking ahead to next fall.

Unfortunately for Dimitrakos, so was veteran Phoenix goalie Sean Burke.

Dimitrakos scored his second goal with 7:40 left as the Sharks rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period for a 3-3 tie with the Coyotes on Sunday.

Led by Dimitrakos and several other youngsters trying to make a positive impression on San Jose's coaching staff, the Sharks dominated play in the final two periods and overtime of their season finale.

But Burke, who missed 56 games with various injuries, made 41 saves as the Coyotes finished their season with a three-game unbeaten streak.

"At this point, it was all about showing what you can do for the future,'' Dimitrakos said. "We gave it a great effort, because a lot of the guys out there still haven't proved themselves in the NHL.''

The Sharks and the Coyotes faced each other in the first round of last year's playoffs, but both are headed home early this spring after disappointing seasons. Several players likely to play big roles in their franchises' future had solid games in the finale.

Burke stopped three point-blank scoring chances for Marco Sturm and Alyn McCauley with a minute to play, and Phoenix killed San Jose's four-minute power play that began shortly before regulation ended. Burke said the final result was a good stepping stone for what's sure to be a busy offseason for both teams.

"(The game) didn't mean much, and I think there was a lack of intensity on both teams' part,'' Burke said. "For the last two periods, we kind of sat back. When you have young guys in the lineup who are trying to make a name for themselves, they're going to play hard, and they definitely did that.''

Daymond Langkow, Paul Mara and Ladislav Nagy scored in the first period for the Coyotes.

McCauley also scored for the Sharks, who finished the most disappointing season in franchise history with a five-game winless streak. Most hockey observers expected San Jose to contend for the Stanley Cup. Instead, the Sharks' streak of five straight playoff trips ended.

"If you're a real good team, you don't fall off the map like this,'' Sharks coach Ron Wilson said. "We as an organization might have needed this kick in the head.

"We have to just learn from the past and start preparing for next season, starting tomorrow. Guys have to focus on what went wrong, and improving it. The excuses that many people believed in or were a part of this year -- they won't be a part of it next year.''

The Coyotes also failed to reach expectations, but their drop wasn't as precipitous or inexplicable as the Sharks' failures, given their injury problems. What's more, Phoenix should get a boost next season by moving into a new suburban arena.

"I know the circumstances we've gone through as a group,'' Phoenix coach Bob Francis said. "I know the players tried to respond, for the most part. All you can ask is for the players that you do have to work hard and give yourselves a chance.''

Dimitrakos, who also scored in the first, tied it by carrying the puck from the corner to the front of the net and beating Burke on his own rebound during a power play.

Evgeni Nabokov stopped 22 shots but remained winless since Feb. 27. The Sharks' cornerstone goalie, who won the Calder Trophy two years ago, finished his disastrous holdout-shortened season with a 19-28-8 record.

Langkow and Mara scored near the San Jose net during the Coyotes' three-goal first.

Nagy put the Coyotes up 3-1 when Vincent Damphousse's clearing attempt hit a seam in the glass and ricocheted back toward the Sharks' net, leaving Nagy alone to score an unassisted wraparound goal.

McCauley, acquired from Toronto last month in the trade of Owen Nolan, cut the Coyotes' lead with 11 minutes left, scoring on a rebound during a power play. McCauley also got the assist on Dimitrakos' game-tying goal for his 25th point of the season -- a new career-high.

Game notes

Teemu Selanne was named the Sharks' player of the year, and defenseman Jim Fahey was named their rookie of the year. ... The door to the home penalty box apparently came off its hinges in the first period, causing a five-minute delay. ... Langkow has 47 goals in two seasons with Phoenix after scoring just 68 goals in his first five NHL seasons with Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. He was one of three Coyotes to play in all 82 games, joining Mike Johnson and Shane Doan. ... Six Sharks played in all 82 games: Mike Rathje, Selanne, Adam Graves, Patrick Marleau, Sturm and Damphousse.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press