Blues complete season sweep of Sharks with 3-1 win
AP Sports Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – The San Jose Sharks serve as a sort of measuring stick for St. Louis after making the Western Conference finals the past two seasons while the Blues have missed the playoffs.
This season, the Sharks were no match for the surprising Blues.
Andy McDonald and Kevin Shattenkirk scored power-play goals and St. Louis capped a four-game season sweep of the Sharks with a 3-1 victory Saturday night.
“They’ve had our number pretty good in the past,” forward T.J. Oshie said. “We just kind of came together. We know it’s going to be a hard game. We know we can’t outskill them. They have a lot of skill on that team and a lot of big skill. When we try to go chance for chance against them it’s not going to end well for us.”
Oshie also scored and Jaroslav Halak made 18 saves for the Blues, who outscored the Sharks 10-1 over the final 10 periods played between the teams this season after losing 20 of the previous 26 games between the teams.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league year in and year out,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Big points for us there. You never know, we might end up playing them in the first round. Just give them a taste if we do play them of what to expect.”
The Sharks need to do work just to get to the postseason. They have lost nine of their last 12 games to fall out of first place in the Pacific Division and have just a one-point lead over Los Angeles for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We’re in a funk and we need to get out of it and get it going,” defenseman Douglas Murray said. “It’s easy to talk. We have to get it done on the ice, get some wins, get the confidence level up as a team. We’re too good a team to let this go on any longer.”
The Blues completely dominated the season series against the Sharks since scoring three third-period goals in the first meeting to erase a 2-1 deficit. St. Louis then shut out San Jose in two games at home, including one that started this recent skid by the Sharks, and controlled the play this game to extend its longest winning streak against San Jose since winning five straight in 2003.
The Sharks struggled to get the puck on net, much less score. The team that leads the NHL in shots on goal with 34.5 per game this season generated just 10 in the opening 40 minutes, including three in a listless second period. San Jose had one shot on three power plays and 19 overall for the game.
“It didn’t fully portray our lack of zone time and scoring chances,” assistant Matt Shaw said. “Their level of hockey was dramatically better than ours and our execution was poor.”
The Blues got their second power-play goal of the game when Shattenkirk scored on a rebound after a scramble in front of Antti Niemi to make it 3-1. St. Louis then throttled the Sharks after that, giving them no good scoring chances on two power plays.
San Jose got no shots on its only power play in the third period as the Blues coasted to the win, completing a 5-1 road trip that has them tied with Detroit for second place in the Western Conference with 89 points.
“We’re a hard team to play against,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We don’t have much quit in us and we’re willing to work for it.”
Even the return of All-Star forward Logan Couture and Murray from injuries didn’t help the Sharks.
St. Louis took advantage of a fortuitous bounce to take the early lead. After Halak stopped Patrick Marleau on a short-handed breakaway, the Blues attempted to dump the puck behind the San Jose net. Niemi went to play the puck but it caromed off the boards to McDonald, who was all alone for the easy tap-in goal.
The Sharks tied it late in the period when Torrey Mitchell threw a puck on net from the side boards that trickled past Halak to end a scoring drought of 134:07 for the Sharks.
The good feeling lasted only 20 seconds before Oshie tipped Carlo Colaiacovo’s point shot past Niemi to give the Blues a 2-1 lead after one.
“That was the turning point in the game,” Hitchcock said. “We didn’t give them a chance to celebrate. We didn’t give them a chance to gain any momentum, and then we kept the burners up most of the game.”
Notes: Sharks coach Todd McLellan missed his third straight game with concussion symptoms after being hit in the head by a stick last Sunday in Minnesota. … The Blues extended their streak of consecutive penalty kills to 27. … San Jose had gone 164:11 without a goal against St. Louis after being shut out the previous two meetings. … The three shots in the second period for the Sharks were tied for their second fewest in any period this season.
FLYERS 1, CAPITALS 0
WASHINGTON (AP) – Eric Wellwood scored less than a minute after Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout to give his players an earful, and Ilya Bryzgalov made 34 saves, leading the Flyers to a 1-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Sunday night.
Bryzgalov earned his third shutout of the season, and the 26th of his career, even though the Flyers were missing two defensemen who sat out with injuries: Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, a two-time league MVP, played fewer minutes than most of Washington’s other forwards and was held without a goal for the seventh time in his last 10 games. Washington has lost two games in a row – both at home, both shutouts – following a three-game winning streak.
Buoyed by a raucous group of Flyers fans in the stands, Philadelphia moved within two points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Washington, meanwhile, remained stuck in ninth in the East, one spot out of the playoff picture.
BLACKHAWKS 2, RED WINGS 1
DETROIT (AP) – Patrick Sharp had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Kane broke a tie late in the second period in Chicago’s victory over Detroit.
Ray Emery made 23 saves to help Chicago solidify its hold on the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Niklas Kronwall scored for Detroit, 27-4-2 at home. Jimmy Howard made four saves before leaving after the first period because of a lower-body injury. Joey MacDonald stopped 12 shots in the final two periods.
Red Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl also left early in the first period because of an upper-body injury. Detroit already was without captain Nicklas Lidstrom, center Pavel Datsyuk and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.
Lidstrom missed his third game because of a deep bone bruise in his right ankle and is expected to sit out at least one more game. Datsyuk is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and Ericsson has a broken left wrist.
Kane scored with 1:19 left in the second period. He made a move and backhanded a shot past MacDonald from the front of the net for his 16th goal.
RANGERS 4, BRUINS 3
NEW YORK (AP) – Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik scored in the third period, and New York held on to beat Boston for the fifth straight time.
Gaborik gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead 3:14 into the third with his 32nd goal, but David Krejci tied it for Boston at 11:42. The Bruins barely had time to celebrate before Stepan ripped a drive from the left circle that sailed goalie Tim Thomas and under the crossbar 39 seconds later.
The Rangers opened a 12-point lead over the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins in the Eastern Conference playoff race. New York’s closest pursuer is Atlantic Division-rival Pittsburgh, which is 10 points behind.
Anton Stralman and Carl Hagelin also scored for the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves. New York is 9-2-2 in its last 13 games. Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron added goals for Boston.
ISLANDERS 1, DEVILS 0
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) – Anders Nilsson made 24 saves to become the first Islanders goalie to have a shutout in his first NHL victory, leading New York past New Jersey.
The 21-year-old Nilsson was called up from Bridgeport on Feb. 29. He was selected the AHL goalie of the month for February after going 6-0-1. The 6-foot-5 Swede made his first NHL start Nov. 21, losing 5-0 at Pittsburgh. He also played the last two periods in a 6-0 home loss against Boston on Nov. 19.
Kyle Okposo scored early in the second period.
STARS 3, FLAMES 2, SO
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) – Loui Eriksson had a short-handed goal and added an assist in regulation, then scored in a shootout in Dallas’ victory over Calgary.
Jamie Benn scored on Dallas’ first attempt in the shootout, and Eriksson connected on the second.
Michael Ryder added a power-play goal, and Kari Lehtonen made 36 saves and assisted on Eriksson’s goal. The Stars have climbed to seventh in the Western Conference, going 6-0-1 in their last seven games.
Curtis Glencross and Jarome Iginla scored for Calgary.
PANTHERS 4, SENATORS 2
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) – Marcel Goc, Krystofer Barch and Mikael Samuelsson scored second-period goals and Florida rallied to beat Ottawa for the first time in 10 games.
Jack Skille added a goal with 1:26 left, Jose Theodore made 23 saves, and Mike Weaver had two assists to help the Panthers beat the Senators for the first time since a 3-0 victory in Ottawa in January 2010.
Jared Cowen and Chris Neil scored in the first period for Ottawa, and Robin Lehner stopped 24 shots.
The Panthers took the lead on Samuelsson’s power-play goal with 8:57 left in the second. Stephen Weiss passed from below the left circle to Samuelsson in front and he wristed the puck past Lehner.
Goc and Barch scored in a 2:21 span early in the second to tie it.
AVALANCHE 2, WILD 0
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Jamie McGinn got his first career two-goal game just 8:25 into the night, giving Colorado all the scoring it needed to beat Minnesota.
Semyon Varmalov made 30 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
Peter Mueller and Stefan Elliott assisted in that order on both goals, spoiling rookie Matt Hackett’s first start in the Wild net at home after five scattered appearances. Hackett made 33 saves, with regular Niklas Backstrom out another two to four weeks with a strained groin muscle and backup Josh Harding resting after giving up six goals the previous game at Detroit and getting pulled in the third period.