Sharks end six-game slide with win over Blues
SAN JOSE – As good as it felt for the San Jose Sharks to finally win again, they know they need plenty more games like this before they can really feel like they are back on track.
Dany Heatley broke out of a scoring slump with a pair of goals that helped the Sharks snap a six-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.
“This can’t just be a one night thing when we stop a losing streak,” coach Todd McLellan said. “This has to be an every night thing. If we can bottle it up and keep playing that way, it doesn’t guarantee us wins every night, but we have a chance.”
Joe Thornton also scored and added an assist to move past teammate Patrick Marleau for the top spot in Sharks history with 390. Antti Niemi made those goals stand up with 28 saves, giving last season’s Western Conference runners-up their first win since New Year’s Day in Los Angeles.
San Jose hadn’t earned a point in six games, its longest stretch of futility since the 1995-96 season. The Sharks also had lost six straight home games for their longest drought in nearly 14 years.
“Everyone can now exhale a little bit,” Thornton said. “We still have to work hard. This doesn’t stop here. We have to build off of this. Hopefully some guys get confidence from this win.”
All those streaks ended after Heatley broke a tie with his 17th goal of the season early in the third period. He was standing alone in the slot when he deflected Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s point shot past Jaroslav Halak to give San Jose a 3-2 lead 4:35 into the third.
Heatley had scored once in 14 games before breaking through with two goals. He nearly had the hat trick as he was originally credited with San Jose’s goal in the second period, as well. But officials gave it Thornton after looking at replays.
Jamie McGinn added an insurance goal later in the third when he knocked in a rebound of Scott Nichol’s shot for his first of the season.
“I knew it was going to come,” McGinn said. “I just didn’t know when. You have to keep the same game every night, just go hard and eventually it will come.”
Making the win even sweeter for San Jose was the fact that many of the players had their fathers in town for an annual trip. The fathers will join the Sharks for their game in Phoenix on Monday.
B.J. Crombeen and Erik Johnson scored for the Blues, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
“I thought two of the three periods here were pretty good hockey,” coach Davis Payne said. “But that’s not enough to win when the Sharks were hungry enough to end a losing streak.”
The Sharks scored power-play goals in each of the first two periods but were still tied heading into the third. The first came late in the opening period when Thornton slid a pass through the crease to Heatley, who tapped it in for the easy goal to tie the game at 1.
Thornton then scored a goal in the second with Ian Cole in the penalty box for holding Benn Ferriero. He knocked the rebound of Dan Boyle’s point shot past Halak to give San Jose a 2-1 advantage.
That lead didn’t last long as St. Louis tied it late in the period just 7 seconds after Ferriero and Cole were sent off for fighting. Patrik Berglund won the faceoff back to Erik Johnson, who skated in and shot the puck through Niemi’s pads to tie it at 2 with 2:07 left in the second period.
The first goal of the game was emblematic of how things have gone lately for the Sharks. Niemi appeared to make a shoulder stop on a wrist shot by Crombeen. But the puck popped in the air, landed behind Niemi in the crease and trickled into the net to give the Blues an early 1-0 lead.
But that was the only lead St. Louis would hold as the Blues failed to score on two power-play chances and gave up two goals when the Sharks had the extra man.
“Our overall game was so-so and there were times we should have gotten the pucks in and they bounced out,” forward Alexander Steen said. “Our special teams need to help our team.”
NOTES: Sharks F Ryane Clowe had his consecutive games streak snapped at 129 after he injured a leg on Thursday. … San Jose F Logan Couture returned after missing one game with a knee injury. … Blues F David Perron (concussion) hasn’t played since Nov. 4 against San Jose when he had a mid-ice collision with Thornton, who was suspended two games.