ST. LOUIS – The Sharks’ 3-2 loss to the Blues on Thursday turned on a penalty that both coach Pete DeBoer and the penalized player, Mikkel Boedker, disagreed with.
While the Sharks were on a power play, Patrik Berglund tumbled to the ice at 14:57 of the second period of a 2-2 game. It was deemed interference, Boedker went to the box, and David Perron scored one minute later on what ended up as the game-winning goal.
“I didn’t touch him, the ref saw something, he called it,” Boedker said. “I know what I felt and I didn’t touch him, and I don’t think I was in the way.”
The Sharks weren’t pointing to that play as the sole reason they lost, though. Instead, they cited their own 0-for-6 on the power play that prevented them from getting at least a point in the standings against the club they were meeting for the first time since last spring’s Western Conference Final.
DeBoer said: “I looked at [the Boedker penalty] a dozen times and I still don’t see it, but at the end of the day you have to fight through some of that stuff. The difference in the game was the power play goal, they got one and we didn’t.”
The Perron shot was a stoppable one, too.
“The third one is on me,” Martin Jones said. “It just kind of looked like it was going to hit a stick, and I double-clutched for half a second, and that’s the game.”
The struggling power play wasn’t as much of an issue before Thursday thanks to the team’s remarkable penalty killing streak. San Jose had gone 11 straight games without allowing an opponent to score on a man advantage, including 26 straight kills.
They are now just 2-for-23 on the power play in their last eight games, though, not at all looking like the club that finished third in the NHL last season in that category. The recent futility even prompted DeBoer to shake up his top unit in the third period, replacing Patrick Marleau with Joel Ward.
It didn’t work. They squandered Robby Fabbri’s tripping minor at 6:07, and Kyle Brodziak’s delay of game with about a minute to go, even with Jones pulled for an extra attacker.
“We really haven’t clicked [on] the first unit all season,” Logan Couture said. “Feels like we’re not all on the same page. Last year the power play worked, this year we’re getting away from what made us successful.”
Other than special teams, the game was a fairly even one. The Sharks got goals from Couture and rookie Kevin Labanc, while St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz found the net on a couple of wrist shots through traffic.
Labanc, playing in his fifth career game, was involved in a number of plays after he was promoted to the Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski line. He tallied his first career goal on a turnaround shot from the slot to make it a 2-2 game, but was also on the ice for the first of Schwartz’s two goals, when Alex Pietrangelo pressured him along the wall on a rim and the puck deflected to Schwartz off of Labanc’s skate.
“You’ve obviously got to be ready for those types of rims, because next thing you know it’s going to be in the back of your net. You’ve got to be really detailed and be ready for little plays like that,” Labanc said.
Still, the performance was an encouraging one for the 20-year-old, who had a great chance to tie the game in the third period on a one-time blast from the circle that he powered towards Jake Allen.
“I thought he did a good job,” DeBoer said. “That’s a big ask for us to stick him [on the top line]. He didn’t look intimidated. He just shows up and plays, and scored a nice goal.”
Had his teammates scored on the power play, Labanc’s memorable night might have come under better circumstances.
“We’ve got to find a way to cash in when we get the chance,” DeBoer said.