San Jose’s four-game home win streak has come to an end, but the defense remains steady.
Coming off of two straight three-goal victories, the San Jose Sharks knew another comfortable win would be hard to come by against a St. Louis Blues squad that had won seven of their last nine games coming into tonight.
However, going scoreless was not in the game plan for a Sharks team that has had no troubles scoring all year, and that is what happened Tuesday night, as the Blues fought their way to a 1-0 victory over San Jose.
With the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot at stake, the Sharks just could not get one past Brian Elliott, who stopped all 37 shots that came his way in route to his second straight shutout since returning from injury. It was yet another remarkable performance from the 30 year-old net minder who now leads the NHL with a .933 save percentage.
Team teal had a third consecutive impressive defensive performance, allowing only 24 shots and one goal. St. Louis’ goal came just about halfway through the third period on a beautiful breakout pass from Troy Brouwer to Robby Fabbri, who converted the two-on-one chance with a close range goal that deflected off the stick of Dylan DeMelo in a last ditch effort to prevent the scoring opportunity. It was Fabbri’s 17th goal of the season, and the rookie now has points in eight of his last 10 games.
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San Jose outshot the Blues in every period by a pretty wide margin, but besides one shorthanded breakaway opportunity from Joel Ward which would have been tough to convert with David Backes right on his back, the Sharks struggled to get good looks on net against the stout Blues defensemen until late in the third period. Tomas Hertl had a puck deflect off the crossbar late in the first period, but scoring chances came at a minimum from there until the closing minutes of the game.
Not converting on four power-play opportunities was rough for the team from the bay, which included a 6-on-3 advantage for 30 seconds in the last couple minutes of the contest and a 6-on-4 advantage in the final 45 seconds. The Sharks generated a staggering 10 shots on goal in those last three minutes, but Elliott was too strong in the crease, preventing rebounds and locking down the lower half of the net all game.
One bright spot for San Jose was Martin Jones, who put forth another great effort in the midst of his recent great stretch of play. Jones has a 1.78 GAA in his last nine starts, pairing alongside newcomer James Reimer who has a 1.50 GAA in his first four starts as a Shark. Additionally, DeMelo was respectable in an extended amount of ice time due to the absence of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, despite being a bit out of position for the Blues’ lone goal, blocking three shots and firing three shots on goal.
In spite of the loss, San Jose has allowed two goals in their last three games, and they responded well to their last time being shutout (Mar. 10 vs. New Jersey), netting five goals in a win over Washington. Team teal is still in line to clinch a playoff berth within the next couple of days, and with Los Angeles and Anaheim both losing tonight, the Sharks remain five points out of first place in the Pacific Division and one point behind Anaheim.
It wasn’t the result the Sharks wanted, not getting the biscuit in the basket once all game, but they have the opportunity to bounce back on Thursday night against an Oilers team that sits in last place in the Pacific.