SAN JOSE – It was a play that Joe Pavelski finishes off nearly every time.
On a five-on-three power play in a scoreless game early in the second period, Pavelski was given a perfect feed through the seam from Joe Thornton. The Sharks captain settled the puck and was staring at a wide open net, as goalie Carter Hutton didn’t have time to react.
But instead of smacking it through, Pavelski pulled the shot just a little bit, hitting the outside of the net. Eight seconds later he hauled down Colton Parayko for an interference minor, and about a minute after that it was Parayko who gave the Blues a 1-0 lead on a brief power play with Pavelski still in the box.
St. Louis gradually took the game over from there, polishing off the Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday, 4-0.
“I think I put that in every other time, and missed it,” Pavelski said. “Next thing you know [Parayko] is spinning and falling down. It takes away a little momentum drawing that penalty then. So, it just can’t happen. It’s an area we should go up 1-0, so I’ll take [the blame] for that part.”
Pete DeBoer said: “The five-on-three, that’s a game changing moment. You get a couple, there’s a positive reaction, and we don’t. It’s downhill after that. That’s something that we have to cash in on.”
The Blues entered the game as one of the worst defensive teams in the league, especially lately. They had given up 10 goals in their last two games, both decisive losses, and 30 in their last eight before shutting down the Sharks on Saturday. It was just their sixth road win of the season (6-11-1).
San Jose’s best chances came in the first period. Chris Tierney hit the post on a partial breakaway, Thornton was denied on a one-timer from between the circles, and Mikkel Boedker’s open look from the slot was also denied by Hutton.
It was consecutive penalties to Alex Steen and Alex Pietrangelo just 11 seconds apart in the second period presented the best chance of all. The Sharks couldn’t crack the scoreboard, though, and the Blues survived being two men down for nearly two minutes despite going just 26-for-36 on the PK over their last nine games.
The Sharks just didn’t look the same after Parayko’s goal, while the Blues upped their intensity.
DeBoer said: “They won more battles, they won more races. You’re not going to win a game when the other team is more desperate than you unless you have everything go right. We didn’t tonight.”
“I think the first period we had a couple [chances], but that’s deceiving,” Logan Couture said. “I don’t think we were very good from the start of the game.”
The Blues also seemed to gain some steam from Thornton’s five-minute major in the second period, when he speared Paul Stastny at center ice and was kicked out of the game with 29 minutes left. Stastny's teammates, including the captain Pietrangelo, let Thornton know they didn't appreciate the dirty gesture.
The Sharks were hoping that might get them going. The opposite happened.
“That should fire us up, if anything. When he gets mixed up, it normally does,” Pavelski said. “If we lose a guy or something happens, we need to respond better than what we did.”
Couture said: “The game declined from that point on. It’s unfortunate. For guys like Pav, myself, [Patrick Marleau] – we want to elevate and try to fill that void. The younger guys should try to elevate and fill that void as well with the opportunity, and it didn’t happen tonight.”