Sharks can't keep clamps on Blues
Vladimir Sobotka's first career hat trick paced the Blues' offense. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE -– The Sharks’ offense finally showed some signs of life. Unfortunately, a rare bad game by their goaltender resulted in a 4-3 overtime loss at home to St. Louis on Saturday afternoon at HP Pavilion.
The game-winner came just 1:12 into overtime. Barret Jackman’s shot was tipped by Patrik Berglund and found its way through Alex Stalock, completing the comeback for St. Louis. The Sharks led 3-1 entering the final period.
Vladimir Sobotka's hat trick paced the Blues' offense.
Sobotka cut into the San Jose lead when his shot from the circle beat Antti Niemi high to the glove side at 4:18 of the third period. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was defending Sobotka on the play, and may have screened his goaltender.
Just 80 seconds later on a power play with Dan Boyle off for interference, Sobotka’s shot from almost the same place beat Niemi to the short side with Chris Stewart in front to make it 3-3.
Stalock, recalled from Worcester earlier in the day due to Thomas Greiss’ sore neck, replaced Niemi after Sobotka’s third goal. He preserved the 3-3 tie on a two-on-one rush with a glove save on Chris Porter with 10:46 to go.
The Sharks fell to 11-7-5, and are 7-1-4 at home. It was their second straight defeat (0-1-1).
Trailing 1-0, Logan Couture tied the game after a nice play by his new linemate.
Tommy Wingels, returning from a five-game absence, drove hard to the net around Jackman. Jake Allen made the save on Wingels, but the puck deflected off of Alex Pietrangelo’s skate to Couture who banged it in at 15:19.
San Jose increased its lead with the only two goals in the second period. Shortly after killing off a Joe Thornton boarding penalty, Scott Gomez scored his second goal in three games when he deposited the rebound off a James Sheppard shot at 7:08.
Matt Irwin’s slap shot on a Sharks power play at 16:31 gave the Sharks their third goal, the first time they’ve scored that many since Feb. 5 in Chicago, 12 games ago. Ryane Clowe was in front of the net, as he was for Gomez's goal, this time helping to screen the Blues’ goaltender on Irwin's second of the season.
The game was physical, especially in the first period. Patrick Marleau drilled David Backes behind the Blues’ net about a minute into the game, and Backes later repaid the favor with a hit along the boards in the neutral zone. Wingels hammered David Perron in the Sharks’ offensive zone midway through the first, and Brad Stuart joined the fun with a hard check of Porter on a San Jose penalty kill with 5:30 to go.
The Sharks had a 12-3 advantage in hits after the first period, and 30-22 for the game.
St. Louis took the lead on Sobotka’s first goal at 4:51, when the forward got position on Justin Braun in front of the net to flip in a Kevin Shattenkirk rebound.
Irwin’s power play goal from Braun and Gomez was just the second by the Sharks’ second unit this season. The other was on Feb. 2 vs. Nashville, when Marty Havlat scored. The Sharks were 1-for-2 on the afternoon.
The Blues, who entered with the NHL’s second-best power play, finished 1-for-4. The Sharks had not allowed a power play goal in their previous five games.
Niemi, who had a night off against Calgary on Wednesday, made 25 saves on 28 shots before he was removed from the game.
Stalock saw his first NHL action since his one and only appearance on Feb. 1, 2011.
Allen, a 22-year-old rookie, stopped 22 shots.
Braun returned after he was scratched for the previous two games, while Jason Demers came back out of the lineup.
The Sharks placed winger Marty Havlat on injured reserve before the game. Havlat has missed the last three games with a lower body injury. Matt Pelech was recalled on Saturday, but did not dress.
The Sharks visit the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday (5 p.m.), and continue on to St. Louis to close out the season series with the Blues on Tuesday. A home-and-home with the Los Angeles Kings begins on Thursday night at HP Pavilion and concludes at the Staples Center on Saturday.