SAN JOSE – The way the standings are shaping up, the Sharks and Blues could see each other again in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That might not be so great for San Jose.
The Blues skated to a 4-1 win at SAP Center on Thursday night, holding the Sharks to just 20 shots on goal in sweeping the three-game season series – with all of the wins in regulation.
St. Louis outscored the Sharks 8-1 over the final two meetings, including a 4-0 shutout victory in San Jose on Jan. 14.
Zach Sanford’s second period goal broke a 1-1 tie. A deflected puck banked off of the end boards to his tape, and he lifted it over Aaron Dell at 5:49 of the middle frame.
The Blues didn’t get a power play until midway through the third period, but utilized the opportunity. Alex Steen hit the crossbar with a wrist shot, and Vladimir Tarasenko dove in to poke in the loose puck before Justin Braun could clear it out of the way with less than 12 minutes to go in regulation.
Earlier in the third, Jannik Hansen passed up an opportunity to shoot on a two-on-one, passing the puck to Thornton, who then tried to find Joe Pavelski in the slot but missed the mark. The Sharks managed just seven shots on goal from their forwards.
Tarasenko’s empty net goal with 1:50 to go was the final marker.
The Sharks fell to 3-2-0 on their season-long six-game homestand, with one game remaining. They squandered a chance to leapfrog Minnesota for second place in the Western Conference, although remain seven points ahead of Anaheim in the Pacific Division.
St. Louis continued its playoff push under new coach Mike Yeo, winning its sixth game in the last seven (6-1-0). The Blues improved to 13-7-0 since firing Ken Hitchcock and promoting Yeo on Feb. 1.
The Blues struck first. Scottie Upshall got in the way of a Brent Burns outlet pass in the neutral zone, brought the puck over the offensive blue line, and used Paul Martin as a screen to beat Dell at 16:40.
San Jose tied it just about a minute later, getting some help from defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, who booted an attempted pass from Marc-Edouard Vlasic to Joel Ward through his goaltender at 17:45. Vlasic was credited with his fifth of the season.
The Blues, who lost in Anaheim on Wednesday night, are 9-2 in the second half of back-to-backs including seven straight wins.
The Sharks finished 0-for-2 on the power play, and were 0-for-11 in the season series with the Blues. They are 3-for-29 in the last nine games overall.
St. Louis was 1-for-1, and 3-for-8 against the Sharks for the season. San Jose had been 10-for-10 on the PK in its last four games.
Dell lost for the first time in his career at home, after six straight wins, allowing three goals on 35 shots. He started for the fourth time in the last eight games, as the Sharks opt to rest Martin Jones more often down the stretch.
Hutton continues to own the Sharks. He improved to 4-0-1 in his career against San Jose with 19 saves, following up on his 23-save shutout in the previous head-to-head matchup.
Thornton’s five-game point streak came to an end.
The Sharks conclude their homestand, and their season series with Anaheim, on Saturday. San Jose is 2-2-0 against the Ducks this season with a pair of overtime wins, as Anaheim has recorded at least a point in all four meetings (2-0-2).