The San Jose Sharks took their sterling 5-0-0 record to St. Louis to face a familiar foe in the Blues who had their own impressive 4-0-0 record going into the game. Two of the NHL’s three teams without a loss in an early season showdown was sure to elicit some sparks, and did it ever.
It’s well documented that the Sharks and Blues don’t exactly like each other, but that would become ever more apparent throughout the game. The first period was ripe full of penalties in what was already expected to be a physical game. Early in the first period, defenseman Dan Boyle, was shoved face first into the boards by the Blues’ Maxim Lapierre. Boyle didn’t move for several minutes and was taken off the ice via stretcher. Several fights broke out across the ice resulting in multiple penalties and setting the tone for a physical, chippy night in St. Louis. After the resulting penalties, Lapierre was ejected from the game for checking from behind. According to the Sharks, Boyle was alert and responsive while on his way to the hospital for evaluation.
Thanks to injury and suspension, San Jose was running thin with the absence of Martin Havlat, Raffi Torres, and Brad Stuart. Stuart was serving the last of his three game suspension for last weeks hit on Rangers’ winger Rick Nash. Roster deficiencies aside, San Jose has had no problem lighting the lamp this season, winning five of their six games by three goals or more. The Ottowa Senators are the only team who has been able to ‘stifle’ the Sharks offense, holding San Jose to three goals in their recent tilt at the newly named SAP Center in San Jose, Ca. Antti Niemi allowed two goals on 23 shots, but was still able to secure the victory at home.
The Sharks offensive barrage started quickly after the hit on Dan Boyle with their offense being predicated on clean, crisp passes and opportunistic shot taking. Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski scored similar power play goals roughly a minute apart in the first period. Tommy Wingels and Scott Hannan both added goals in the second, and Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau bookended St. Louis goals in the third period. Thornton, Pavelski, and Hannan each tallied their first goal of the season against the Blues Tuesday night. With the Sharks being up 5-0 early in the third period, St. Louis had no chance against a stingy defense and a goalie that had a 1.40 GAA going into the game.
Brian Elliott saw his first action of the young season in the loss, replacing Jaroslav Halak after Halak had allowed four goals in the first two periods. It didn’t matter who was in goal against the Sharks, as they tallied two goals in each period, ending the Blues 10-game home winning streak, and handing them their first loss of the season. Antti Niemi stopped 25 shots, but was unable to preserve the shutout, allowing Vladimir Tarasenko and Roman Polak a goal each in the third period.
The San Jose Sharks were without several key playmakers in their game against the Blues, yet were able to remain undefeated despite the odds. St. Louis was unable to mount any significant offensive attack until it was too late. The Blues offensive ineptitude gave San Jose some breathing room and an opportunity to play fast and loose, creating scoring opportunities, and ultimately amounting in a significant win against a tough opponent on the road. San Jose takes its undefeated record to Dallas Thursday night for a game against the Stars (2-3-0).