With seven wins in a row at home under their belt, the San Jose Sharks hoped to wrap up their home stand with another win against the St. Louis Blues in their first meeting of the season. The starting lineup for the Sharks was James Sheppard paired with with rookies Melker Karlsson and Barclay Goodrow. This was a good call by Coach Todd McLellan, showing his confidence in the youngsters, who helped to win the last game versus the Edmonton Oilers. It was all about these third and fourth lines, on both clubs, that got the job done for the majority of this game. And the Sharks would wrap up this one with a surprising twist at the end from clutch performances by the veterans.
It was all Blues in the first period, though – low cycling in the offensive zone and many chances at the net. It wasn’t until about twelve minutes into the game that the Sharks even got one shot on goal, by Tomas Hertl.
The Sharks continued their less-than-stellar performance into their first power play of the night with no shots. It was a quick first period that concluded with no score and a dismal 2 shots on goal for the Sharks to the Blues 8 shots. The Blues are very fast, aggressive, and know how to crash the net.
The boys knew what they needed to do and even Brent Burns made a comment in the first intermission interview with color commentator Jamie Baker that they need to shoot more for the rest of the game.
If You Get Shots, You Will Score… Eventually
The Sharks began the second period much better than the first, already tallying five shots on goal only four minutes in. They got another man-advantage chance, and were hoping for a 5-on-3 when the puck was shot over the glass in the offensive zone. This play is not reviewable and the refs made the call on the ice as no penalty. It remained only a 5-on-4 power play and the Sharks stepped on the gas a bit more, landing a total of 6 shots in the two minutes, and a total of 17 for the entire second. Burns said what they must do and they did.
At about halfway into the game, Andrew Desjardins netted his second of the season in a weird bounce, what looked like off of Jake Allen’s shoulder and up and into the net. A little bit of life was rejuvenated back into the Sharks after that goal. Four minutes later, the Blues made it a tie game. Patrik Berglund shot, then got the rebound off of Antti Niemi. The Blues kept on the pressure and even got another chance, which hit the crossbar with a clink! Late in the period, their hard work paid off when a breakaway from Maxim LaPierre gave veteran Steve Ott his first goal as a Blue to make it 2-1.
The Sharks started the third period, once again, down by a goal and had to rally if they wanted this game. This time, the veteran Sharks stepped up their game and Joe Pavelski tried to tie it but was absolutely robbed by Allen. And by this time, the Sharks have surpassed the Blues with shots on goal, 25 to 20, but Allen has made it hard, saving 24 of those shots.
In the final four minutes, the Sharks were not generating plays and the puck kept getting intercepted. The Blues were all over the Sharks in the Blues zone, and then they took control and put the pressure on in the Sharks zone. It wasn’t looking good for the boys in teal.
With 1:20 left, Niemi vacated the net in a final attempt to tie this game by having an extra skater.
The newbies may have won the last game, but the veterans would win this one.
An amazing pass from Joe Thornton to Marc-Edouard Vlasic paid off, and Vlasic was able to tie the score with 20.6 seconds left in the game. With that assist, Thornton has 873, tying him with Phil Esposito for 22nd place on the NHL’s All-Time Assist List. When you play with Jumbo Joe, plays happen. He has such good puck vision, and this pass was the perfect example and the type of play you expect from veterans to get the job done when absolutely necessary. The Sharks, once again, came back from behind and Vlasic got his fourth on the season and the all-important game-tying goal in this one.
Overtime brought a lot of frustration and tension from both sides. Then, the Sharks caught a break and went on the power play in a 4-on-3 situation. Burns, who only had three shots in the entire game, shot a one-timer bullet from Pavelski to win the game. This was Burns’ 14th game-winning goal in his career and what a goal it was!
“It was just a good all-around game. We played hard, they played hard – just two good teams going at it. It took the last minute for us to score to get back in the game and then obviously the last minute to score in overtime. So [it was] just a good competitive game by both teams,” commented Thornton after the game.
The Sharks now have some very good momentum and character-defining moments in these last eight games to take with them into their tough schedule ahead. They will face division rivals Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, and Vancouver Canucks, and then the Blues again over the next two weeks – a very good test for Team Teal.