Blues grind past Sharks with late-season shutout

The St. Louis Blues returned the sting of two home losses to San Jose earlier in the season by grinding out a 1-0 defensive victory at SAP Center Tuesday night.

With the win, the Blues (43-22-9, 97 pts) delayed the reassuring guarantee of a postseason spot for the Sharks (41-26-6, 88 pts). It also prevented San Jose from leapfrogging the Anaheim Ducks (40-23-9, 89 pts)  or inching towards the reigning Los Angeles Kings (44-24-5, 93 pts) — both of who also faltered on Tuesday — in the all-important Pacific Division standings.

Joe Pavelski said:

“It’s a missed opportunity for sure. There’s not many games left to make up a lot of points. You’ve got to make a chance like that count. We’re letting them (Ducks and Kings) slip, but then again, we don’t lose as much ground as we could’ve.”

Neither Sharks goalie Martin Jones (L, 2.24 GAA, .920) nor St. Louis’ Brian Elliott (W, 2.01 GAA, .933) conceded so much as an inviting shot angle throughout scoreless first and second periods. Elliott, fresh off a 3-0 blanking of the Vancouver Canucks, looked determined to tack on a consecutive shutout in the arena of a hosting Pacific team.

Head Coach Peter DeBoer said:

“I liked most of our game. I thought one area where we could’ve done a better job was getting in front of the goalie a little bit. I thought he saw too many of our shots, particularly at the end.”

Jones kept pace with Elliott for the bulk of the contest, stifling multiple Blues’ breakaways. It wasn’t until midway through the third that a Robby Fabbri wrist shot finally found the netting behind Jones’ glove.

Logan Couture said:

“Our goaltending has been very good. Defensively we’ve been good, and when we make mistakes those guys (Jones and Sharks backup James Reimer) are there to bail us out.”

The Sharks threatened in the game’s final minutes when two Blues penalties and an early exit for Jones created a six-on-three San Jose advantage, but Elliot and the St. Louis defense remained stout.

Joe Pavelski said:

“It was unique there that we had that extra guy. It looked like there was a shot or two that just went off his glove. They were desperate and we didn’t find that way to score.”

San Jose will look to gain ground in the standings Thursday when they host the struggling Edmonton Oilers (29-40-7, 65 pts) before beginning a tough stretch against Dallas, Los Angeles and Vancouver.