With the St. Louis Blues not of their liking, the San Jose Sharks rebound by beating the Winnipeg Jets…
Playing the Blues would certainly have been more enjoyable for Dr. King than it was for the Sharks. Meanwhile, Leonard Bernstein would have detested this NHL adaptation of his classic West Side Story. There was no drama with the Jets shutout for more than 95 percent of the game.
Overall, San Jose earned a 1-1-0 record in the two games. It remains half a game behind the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific Division lead. A final visit with the Los Angeles Kings is next Wednesday before a return home for the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday.
St. Louis Blues
St. Louis may have lost their captain and others this summer, but looked like a team still stinging from the Western Conference finals. The visitors controlled play for most of the game and held the overall event summary advantage: 30-28 faceoffs, 9-18 giveaways, 4-4 takeaways, 30-30 hits, 23-26 shots, 46-61 attempts and 20-13 blocks.
The Blues came in with the worst team save percentage on the 2016-17 NHL season. Nevertheless, the Sharks were shutout for the first time since their visit to the Carolina Hurricanes Nov. 15.
Former Shark Carter Hutton did not have to be outstanding to earn it. Meanwhile, Martin Jones had as much chance on the empty-net goal as he did on two of the three scores allowed.
Colton Parayko scored first on a power play just over five minutes into the second period. Fresh off killing a two-man advantage, St. Louis screened Jones and the shot deflected off the stick of Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Parayko also received the primary assist on the only goal Jones could have stopped. Nevertheless, longtime Shark-rival David Perron was in point-blank range when he stuffed the puck under the pad.
Joe Thornton was ejected for spearing another opponent’s crotch late in the second. Frankly it is about time the league sent him a message on this. Spearing in and of itself is bad enough, but going for a guy’s crotch breaks the code.
San Jose killed the five-minute major but had no chance of coming back without its offensive facilitator. A deflection by Jori Lehtera put the game out of reach midway through the third period. Nevertheless, Alexander Steen took advantage of an empty net with about five minutes to go.
By contrast, Winnipeg looked like a tired team. It has played 43 games in 86 days and has five more before the NHL All-Star break next weekend.
The Sharks took advantage early and often. Joel Ward scored a shorthanded goal midway through the first period to get things underway.
He also “took the hit to make the play” 2:45 into the second. Ward was flattened after advancing the puck to Chris Tierney, who found Timo Meier for a breakaway.
Just over four minutes later, Brent Burns gave San Jose a 3-0 lead. His shot off the back boards was kicked in by goalie Michael Hutchinson trying to seal the post.
The Sharks kept the pressure on and extended the lead with 8:19 left. This time Meier earned the assist and Tierney the goal.
Unfortunately for San Jose, the shutout ended with 2:36 to go when Josh Morrissey buried his only shot of the game. Mark Scheifele earned an assist on that score and a goal when he gloved then buried a Jones attempt at the empty net. Thornton capped the scoring after winning the neutral-zone faceoff; all three of his season goals are into an empty net.
The Sharks held the overall event summary advantage: 30-25 faceoffs, 15-13 giveaways, 6-5 takeaways, 17-20 hits, 32-28 shots, 68-58 attempts and 18-20 blocks. Thus they sent their Canadian West Side Story rivals home as the third-worst team in the conference.