Blues roll past lackluster Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Sharks forgot to bring their passion and energy to the rink Thursday, and paid for it in the form of a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
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San Jose was held to a season-low 20 shots on goal for a fourth time as one-time Sharks farmhand Carter Hutton backstopped the desperate Blues to a sixth win in seven games.
The hosts' two-game winning streak was snapped, and they remained seven points ahead of division rival and idle Anaheim, who the Sharks host on Saturday to close the season-high six-game homestand.
St. Louis didn't earn its first power play until midway through the final period, but needed only 11 seconds to convert a Dylan DeMelo tripping penalty.
St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko scored by gaining inside position on Sharks defenseman Justin Braun to tap a rebound of a Tomas Steen shot past San Jose goalie Aaron Dell at 8:34 to break open a one-goal game.
Tarasenko scored his second of the game, and team-leading 34th of the season, into an empty net at 18:10.
The Blues scored the only goal of the second period to take a 2-1 lead into the final 40 minutes.
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester missed the net with a drive from the right circle, but the hard carom off the end boards went to an unmarked Zach Sanford, who banged home his third goal from the weak side at 5:49.
The Sharks struggled to produce anything in terms of offensive pressure in the middle period. They managed five shots on goal -- three of which came during 5-on-4 skating -- for a meager two-period total of 11.
The Sharks and Blues traded late goals to spice an otherwise disjointed and slow developing opening period.
Scottie Upshall picked off a cross-ice clear by San Jose defenseman Brent Burns at center, entered the zone and cranked off a low drive from above the right circle that beat a screened Dell at 16:40. It was the Blues winger's eighth goal that Sharks defenseman Paul Martin failed to block while impairing Dell's vision.
The Sharks struck back at 17:45 when defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic's drive from the left point caromed off the skate of St. Louis rear guard Carl Gunnarsson and past Hutton. It was Vlasic's fifth goal of the season and second since Nov. 12.
NOTES: One-time Sharks' farmhand G Carton Hutton brought a 3-0-1 career record against San Jose into Thursday game including a 0.98 goals-against average, a .971 save percentage and two shutouts. ... D David Schlemko missed a seventh straight game and F Melker Karlsson was out for a third straight for San Jose. Both are nursing lower-body injuries. ... The Blues continue their five-game road trip with a stop at Arizona on Saturday. ... The Sharks conclude a season-high six-game homestand Saturday against Anaheim.