Photos by Aris Bernales/SFBay
SAP CENTER — The over-exhausted term “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” is nothing compared to the San Jose Sharks matchup with the St. Louis Blues on Friday.
The Sharks got on the board early with four goals in the first period, then almost lost the lead in the third period in their only home matinee of the season.
But Team Teal emerged victorious, snapping the Blues’ five-game winning streak with a 6-3 victory.
San Jose scored four of their six goals in the first period. Head coach Todd McLellan expressed his thoughts on the first 20 minutes of play:
“Hell of a period. Really happy with it. Excited about going back out and playing the next. It was a really good start.”
But the highlight of the post-Thanksgiving battle was Brent Burns registering a hat trick, the first in the big-bodied forward’s NHL career.
When asked after the game what he could say about Burns’ performance, teammate Tommy Wingels smiled:
“What can’t we say about that guy, huh? He’s a big, strong guy out there. He creates momentum for the team, he creates space for the other players. And he can score some goals here and there (laughs.) It’s fun to watch a guy like that out there.”
The Sharks’ first goal came in the middle of a shift change 45 seconds into the opening period. Patrick Marleau set up Burns in front of the blue paint and he lined the puck into the visitors’ net so quickly that Blues goaltender Brian Elliot didn’t appear to have seen it go in. Logan Couture tallied an assist on the opening goal.
Thornton widened the Sharks lead 2-0 on their first power play attempt of the game with a snap shot that eluded Elliot’s glove side. Couture and Joe Pavelski registered assists.
The captain then set Burns up for his second goal of the game with a crossover pass that No. 88 buried in St. Louis’s net to give San Jose a 3-0 advantage. Thornton and Tomas Hertl tallied assists.
San Jose increased their lead to 4-0 when Tommy Wingels scored with a wrist shot that bounced past Elliot. Couture registered his third assist on the afternoon before the opening stanza was even over.
Couture explained that the first period was, not so much a dominant performance by San Jose, but an uncharacteristically poor performance by St. Louis:
“We realized there was still forty minutes to go, and that wasn’t St. Louis in the first period. That was a different team, and they showed that in the second and third, that they are a very good team.”
Still it was no surprise when Jaroslav Halak took over for Elliot between the pipes for the rest of the game, after the Blues starter gave up four goals on just 12 first period shots.
Ian Cole put the Blues on the board in the second with a four-on-four goal that just missed Antti Niemi’s left side.
Niemi subsequently closed out the second period with a few beautiful glove saves to keep the Blues from putting another point on the board.
Sloppy play by the home team at the start of the third period led to a power play opportunity for the Blues. Derek Roy set David Backes up for a snap shot into San Jose’s net to close the score to 4-2.
When Jaden Schwartz netted the Blues’ second four-on-four goal to make the score 4-3, it looked as though the Sharks might be letting the game slip away from them.
But with San Jose on the power play following St. Louis third goal, Burns got possession of the puck and wristed it past Halak to make the score 5-3. Time was called to sweep up the many hats Sharks fans hurled onto the ice in celebration of Burns’ first NHL hat trick.
Burns’ own description of the first three-goal game of his career? The forward kept things light:
“Most of the time I just kinda blackout. … Quick shot, I don’t really remember. … It was big. It was pretty special.”
Hertl capped off the Sharks win with an empty net goal with under a minute left in regulation.
The San Jose Sharks (17-3-5) cap off their long homestand on Saturday when they host a tough Pacific Division rival in the Anaheim Ducks (18-7-3). Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
San Jose has outscored their opponents 36-13 in the first period. Their +23 first period goal differential is currently ranks first in the NHL. … This season, the Sharks have scored nine times in their first two minutes of a game. Their four goals in the first period of today’s game ties a season-high for most goals in a period. The first time this happened was October 8 during the second period of the Sharks 9-2 rout of the New York Rangers. … Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski all had multi-point games… Logan Couture had three assists, tying a career-high for most assists in a game. He is the first Sharks player to have three assists in a game since Joe Thornton did in the first period on January 22, 2013 at Edmonton (credit: Elias Sports). … Joe Thornton notched a goal and two assists, extending his point streak to four games.