SAP CENTER — The good times seem to keep rolling for the Sharks at home, as they defeated the Blues 3-2 on Saturday night for their eighth-straight win at home and fifth-straight overall.
Head coach Todd McLellan marveled at the play:
“He’s got a shot, doesn’t he? He put himself in a good position and created a shooting lane. The pass was in his wheelhouse and he pounded away at it. It’s hard to stop a shot that fast and that quick.”
Overall, it was a tight-checking game, a war of attrition that the Sharks gutted out.
Pavelski talked about the similarities of the two teams, both stellar defensively:
“When we’re tough to play against, we don’t give up much, and they’re the same way. They play hard and fast, and it was a good game out there.”
Down a goal in the third, the Sharks tied the game at 2-2 on a shot by Marc-Edouard Vlasic from the left point with Joe Pavelski providing obstruction in front.
The goal came with 20.6 seconds left after the Sharks had pulled Antti Niemi (W, 18-20 saves, 2.42 GAA), and was set up by a terrific cross-ice pass by Joe Thornton, finding a wide-open Vlasic on the left point.
“There was a lot of ice available and with Jumbo making that pass, he’s not going to miss.”
Thornton, however, was a little more humble:
“I figured somebody was going to be over there, and it was just a great shot by [Vlasic].”
Despite not having much sustained pressure in the third, the Sharks did outshoot the Blues 9-3 and 28-20 in regulation and wound up forcing overtime.
After a sluggish first period, the pace picked up in the second. After the Sharks were stymied on a power play despite a flurry of chances, Andrew Desjardins scored the game’s first goal on a rush down the left side at the 10:47 mark, beating Jake Allen (L, 27-30 saves, 2.49 GAA) short side.
Desjardins said he wasn’t even aiming short side:
“I was more looking five-hole and it just went under his blocker. It’s just one of those things where you try to keep your feet moving and good things happen.”
The Blues, however, responded with two goals to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. Patrick Berglund tied it at 14:29 of the period, backhanding in a loose puck at the side of the net with Niemi out of position.
Three minutes later, an errant pass by Thornton in his zone led to a breakaway goal for Steve Ott, who beat Niemi through the five-hole. Known more as an enforcer than a shooter, it was Ott’s first goal in 58 games.
McLellan broke down the slow start followed by the adventurous second frame:
“I thought it was an iffy, cautious start to the game by both teams – not a lot going on. The second period I thought we got a little impatient and made a couple mistakes, but we buckled down and found a way to get back into it.”
The Sharks mustered a mere two shots on goal in the first period, their first of which was generously provided given it was a long dump-in by Tye McGinn at the 12:07 mark.
Their two best chances in the period – a point-blank opportunity for Tomas Hertl and a drive to the net by Patrick Marleau – went askew and did not register as shots on goal. San Jose also failed to test Allen on its lone power play of the period.
Meanwhile, Niemi fended off more than a few prime scoring chances for the Blues, including a point-blank save on David Backes six minutes in and an impressive right pad stop on Jori Lehtera near the period’s end.
Desjardins talked about what was said in the locker room after the stagnant first period:
“We sat down and said, ‘We have to get more to the net. We have to be a little bit better on our dumps to come up with pucks and have some time in their end.’ “
When asked about the homestand, McLellan complimented his team:
“We have to be fairly happy with the point production and the way we’re playing. We played a good team tonight and gave up 12 shots in the last two periods and overtime, which is a good thing for our club now.”
The Sharks stayed discipline, not committing a single penalty…On Friday, the Sharks announced defenseman Mirco Mueller will play for Switzerland in the World Junior Championships that run through Jan. 5. … Mueller, Chris Tierney and Matt Irwin were scratched for the Sharks tonight. … San Jose will see the Blues a lot more – they play each other twice in the next eight games. … Ott, clearly a fan favorite here in San Jose, heard boos from the crowd after his goal. … Tonight’s game was a sellout at SAP Center, bringing the Sharks’ streak of 10 consecutive non-sellouts to an end.