NHL: Sharks top Blues on the road, 4-1

San Jose Sharks

It’s never good when a team has only one more shot on goal than
injured players in a period. That’s the situation the Blues were in
Saturday against San Jose, as a lackluster first period saw the
team put only three shots on net, while center Dave Scatchard and
defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo left with injuries. While one injured
player re-emerged, the offense never showed up, and David Backes’
penalty shot was the Blues’ only goal in a 4-1 loss to the
Sharks.
ST. LOUIS

It’s never good when a team has only one more shot on goal than injured players in a period.

That’s the situation the Blues were in Saturday against San Jose, as a lackluster first period saw the team put only three shots on net, while center Dave Scatchard and defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo left with injuries.

While one injured player re-emerged, the offense never showed up, and David Backes’ penalty shot was the Blues’ only goal in a 4-1 loss to the Sharks.

“We got outworked tonight,” Blues coach Davis Payne said. “It started in the first period, for sure. Outworked to the puck, outworked at the puck and a pretty flat start for our hockey club.”

San Jose picked up two goals from rookie Logan Couture and led 3-0 before Backes cut into the lead, giving the Blues a momentary boost before the Sharks tacked on another goal in the third period. It was bad execution all around, as the Blues finished with 22 shots on goal and six giveaways.

“We weren’t talking, which made us hesitant,” defenseman Barret Jackman said. “We had a lot of turnovers, and they were getting a lot of chances on misplays by us, which is very uncharacteristic of our team.”

While it was a flat performance for the Blues, it wasn’t dull for the 19,150 fans at Scottrade Center.

San Jose’s first game back in St. Louis since Joe Thornton’s hit on David Perron Nov. 4, forcing Perron to miss the past 20 games with a concussion, had some early drama. Thornton was heavily booed every time he touched the puck, and after the Sharks went 12 straight games without a fight, they were involved in three with the Blues in the first period.

In a span of five minutes, B.J. Crombeen tussled with Ryan Clowe, Chris Porter had a quick exchange with Scott Nichol and Brad Winchester dropped the gloves with former Blue Jamal Mayers.

The bouts didn’t appear to have a connection to Thornton’s hit but had more to do with the Blues’ ineffective start, as they fell behind 2-0 midway through the first period.

Couture redirected a point shot by Dan Boyle with 10 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first period for a 1-0 advantage. After two fights, Marc-Edouard Vlasic stretched the lead to 2-0 with 1:45 left in the period on a wrist shot over the left arm of Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak.

“They came out and had a really good first period,” Blues defenseman Eric Brewer said. “We were just holding on to the puck too long and not moving forward as much as we should have been. You’ve got to move it, get guys skating. It took us awhile to get to that.”

The Blues finished with only three shots in the first period, matching their season low for a period.

Before the team got on the board midway through the second period, it fell behind 3-0 on Couture’s second goal of the game and his 17th of the season. This time, Couture caught a break, as a shot by Boyle went in off his leg with 11:40 left in the second frame.

The goal came seconds after Couture tapped defenseman Ian Cole, who went into the boards hard. After that happened, Couture went to the front of the net, where he knocked in the puck.

“I thought Cole got a little bit of a shove from behind to create that turnover,” Payne said.

Trailing by three goals, the Blues had only nine shots midway through the second period and nothing to show for it. But a smart two-line pass from Jackman to Backes changed that. On a breakaway, Backes was pulled down and awarded a penalty shot, which he got to trickle past goalie Antero Niittymaki for a 3-1 deficit.

“I don’t know if I’m the guy you choose to take a penalty shot, but somehow I willed it into the back of the net,” Backes said. “A two-goal deficit at that time, we got back to playing our hockey … but we didn’t stay at it long enough.”

The Sharks had the only goal of the third period, with Devin Setoguchi netting his fifth of the season with 4:56 remaining. Halak allowed four goals on 34 shots, taking the loss.

The only good news for the Blues was that Colaiacovo returned in the second period, after taking an elbow to the head from Setoguchi in the first period. The Blues, though, finished the game without Scatchard, who left in the first period with a lower-body injury.

— Story by Jeremy Rutherford, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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